Category Archives: Philosophy

Calgary Affordable Housing Forum

Over the past two days, the City of Calgary has hosted a civic forum inviting residents to chime in on the housing affordability crisis. I took a Friday afternoon off and spent three hours listening to presenters. I did so not having read a 30 point recommended blueprint drafted by “experts” which will be before city councillors for a vote. It was apparent that most of the presenters I had witnessed had briefed themselves on the document.

Firstly, I was generally impressed by the quality of presentations to the point that some hope has been restored with respect to the capacity of our people to articulate positions around social policy. People demonstrated an empathy for others not necessarily aligned demographically with themselves.

Secondly, the degree of the problem was showcased emotionally by those impacted. Statistical data points were highlighted by citizens holding career positions oriented around the issue. The city did an admirable job of accommodating no less than 150 presenters while providing audio / visual support.

A backdrop to the forum is an offer from our federal government to provide housing targeted funding with conditions oriented around a blanket zoning change to all communities which would ultimately expedite building approvals city wide. This blanket zoning change would enable “mid-block” infills to accommodate multi-family buildings irrespective of the character surrounding communities only ascribed to single family dwellings. You can see where this is going. The conditional funding offered is substantial. Municipalities will be asked to sign on from a position of weakness having not effectively planned communities for decades while home owners wonder why they are expected to acquiesce to a zoning change potentially negatively impacting their homes market value. Suddenly a carrot is being waved at city councillors across the country which will help break ground on new construction to aid in resolving the housing crisis.

While the federal government’s aggressive immigration policy spurned the housing crisis, the accommodation made for Ukrainian and African refugees has put us into a crisis and action is required – that is the kind of action now not subject to the luxury of urban planning studies. The failures are easily evident in massive urban sprawl and downtown core vacant office buildings. If we promise a Canadian way of life including a home to immigrants and refugees willing to contribute, it’s apparent to me that we must deliver or send them back with a note that we’ve failed them.

We can’t have everything all of the time in the context of serving multiple demographics within a civilized society. Canadian home owners have seen amazing valuation returns on their property and may continue to do so but will be asked to provide their community assets toward the assimilation of those marginalized. It’s actually social while preserving the capitalist ideal. The purchase of a home within Canada has never come with a guarantee that there would never be a zoning change. Everyone must do their part to solve a society ill. Working collectively is good for us all – especially during a time of much division. Some homeowners will be impacted more than others should an infill turn to a multi-family building. City bylaws may need updates. Life will go on.        

Psychology of Denying Fact

What is the psychology of denying fact? I can only postulate. It could be a combination of things going on in a person’s life.

I’ll start with the notion that not all individuals are empowered equally within a civil society and a lack of empowerment may compel one to “act out” in order to counter a perceived irrelevance. Of course all such citizens are relevant but some may not seem so given experience within societies that have seemingly grown colder. A theme running through my blog of late has been impacts associated with the infiltration of technology in peoples’ everyday lives. There is an anti-social element derived from the application of social media platforms.  In fact tech company’s do everything in their power to deliver customer service via technology rather than the human form. Now of course the acronym “AI” is all the rage. 

When folks feel disempowered, they may seek empowerment by radicalizing thought to the point of denying fact. It’s also conceivable that thought may digress to a point of deceit having started honestly with good intention but with an underlying bias to see a resultant manifest.

What tricks can the mind play when there is a feeling of marginalization or isolation? When somebody has nothing to lose, it’s conceivable that behavior can become morally hazardous. Hence; context and credibility are conditions of the lens in which we witness the freedom of speech. Competing interests also capture our attention while we sift through vast array of opinions attempting to deny fact. Fictitious diatribes unfortunately have the effect of distracting us from material events requiring the expeditious assignment of our time. Without question, societies now essentially grapple with the interpretation of meaningless inputs derived from the sources whom have never deserved a forum but have been granted one now through the democratization of the written and spoken word.    

Response To “Children Are Not Alright”

Researchers from the University of Calgary, McGill, and University of Toronto along with Children First Canada have concluded that the quality of life for children is on the decline. This is concerning and from what I’ve seen from our evolving society, I’m not surprised.

Here are the characteristics of trouble pertaining to the children’s experience

  1. Bullying
  2. Systemic racism and discrimination
  3. Limited physical activity and play
  4. Poverty
  5. Poor mental health

What confounds me most is the degree of negligence of adults within the lives of children which obviously would persist in order to facilitate the condition.

Are teachers turning a blind eye to bullying? Is there no mechanism to hold bullies to account within our modern liberal system of education? Are kids being exempted from physical education for unreasonable allowances? Are parents not restricting kids with their electronic gadgets? Are dads not showing up to work thereby failing to put groceries in the fridge? Why do parents divorce despite declaring the vow of “until death do us part” thereby in separation imposing two incomes for two households instead of one? How are kids being held accountable in a way to help them help themselves? What have adults done in the way of urban planning to facilitate places of play? And rural communities? Have adults become less inclined to volunteer within an environment of revelations of abominable conduct by those in the past provided stewardship? What outcome would one expect from kids playing violent video games instead of fielding balls at shortstop whilst enjoying the camaraderie of team play and good sportsmanship?

We’ve overextended ourselves as adults in theory at the expense of kids. In theory, that is because despite of the mantra that we are “working hard”, the unfortunate thing is that we are still putting two adults from a household on the job in a context of having gained technological advantages. 

The evidence is already among us with respect to the character of newer generations as they hit the workplace having been raised oftentimes by a single parent home devoid of the socialization inherent within the traditional nuclear family.    

Consquences Of Ignorance

There are consequences of ignorance. No kiddng right. Just look at the quagmire of the U.S political system and the influence of a degenerate by the name of Donald Trump. The vast majority of Americans do not possess a college education and there is a cultural gulf within the country because of the disparity. Donald Trump with his immoral and brash character represents the anti-establishment. It’s obvious that Donald Trump in the minds of the marginalized can do no wrong because he is symbolized as someone who gives them a voice to challenge the perceived “elite”. Certainly, there’s more to the phenomenon than a void in education because there is a contingent of well read Americans and even Canadians which were duped by this repugnant man.

The two party system and the mechanics of democracy put the populous oftentimes into a position of picking the lesser of two evils which then moves folks to rationalize bad as opposed to voting for good. The whole premise of the “American Dream” is then articulated within a system of complexity and compromise. Expatriates of the U.S. have made their case for departure as opposed to navigating a system enthralled with such compromise feeling isolated from influence directed to Washington by lobbyists of every cause thereby usurping principles related to the American Dream. This is the condition of the U.S. political system in which Donald Trump has been able to carve oxygen. It’s astonishing and will be regarded historically as a depressing period within the collective American psyche.    

Decorum Technology and Human Spirit

You’ve thought it but you haven’t necessarily articulated it. It concerns you because it’s not really within your control. You deflect because it’s easier that way.  You hope that the effects are not material. What is “it” anyway?

“It” is the impersonal side of communicating through technology instead of the person in the like of the “no-reply”, the web chat box, email, or text message.  There are degrees but increasingly the expectation for some is that contacts be fully digitally engaged. Where do you stand? Do you prefer not to encounter a human “retort” to an outreach and therefore turn to your phone for a tone free text? A friend today disclosed that 90 per cent of his business is done by text seemingly because that is the expectation of customers. 

Are the 1-800 spam calls to blame? How about the prevalent self centred agendas of the legitimate sales person looking to drape his target market? How about the proliferation of answering services programmed with introductory propaganda prior to identifying an actionable keypad menu option. You know that the default zero has now been eliminated because no possible agent could possibly be well enough trained to handle every imaginable inquiry!%?      

An industry is bourn for those helping senior citizens. Vocabulary is narrowing. Cursive writing eludes curriculums. Folks walk through cross walks not destined for yoga class while texting in their spandex tights which have been stitched for pockets for the rare occasion that the phone is not hand held. 

You won’t be discussing the weather or having innocuous banter with strangers on your walk. They will be plugged in with Bluetooth enabling protection from the megaphone of those protesters stymied from achieving discourse through their tongue. Yup, that wicket at city hall has been replaced by the 311 app and you are not physically welcome to shine your grievance.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is the new catch acronym and regulation is surmised but are we not a little late? Imagine its form as we presuppose the sequestration of emotion.