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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Super Together When We're Part of a Team

If we're waiting for Superman, it's gonna be a long, long wait. 
Wouldn't it be better to get super together?
More and more folk not only seem to be getting on this thought-train, they're succeeding as a result.
Just sayin'.

Emperors Don't Follow Laws

I know I'm not the only one who feels far too many members of the Harper government (both elected and non-elected) feel that, because they are top dogs, they rest above the law.  They make them for other people and are held to a different standard, one they themselves set.  It's reminiscent of Karl Rove:
Call me sensationalist, if you feel the urge.  I can point to many, many sources of evidence to support my argument.  They can all be summed up in one line:
A government committed to democratic engagement recognizes that Parliament, a free press and independent courts are fundamental pillars of a democratic system.  Such a government, when faced with repeated opposition to their approach, would self-reflect a bit and consider if they need to change the way they operate.
This isn't how Harper's government has ever operated.  Faced with opposition, they don't compromise; they double-down, attack, do whatever they can to get their opponents to back down so that they may win. 
Lina Keene they could can; not-for-profits they can defund; they get more ink that Carol Todd, so reframing her positions to fit their narrative and then shutting her out is easy.  The media can be side-stepped, and has been. 
And yet the Supreme Court has been doggedly defiant of the Conservative Empire.  This is problematic, because opposition to their agenda, in their eyes, makes them look weak. 
The courts, however, aren't so easily suppressed or manipulated.  At least, not yet.
And that should be of serious concern to all of us.

Love this

But if you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can't stop you, then you become something else entirely.
What man is a man that does not make the world better?

Getting to Yes: Sales, Sex and Parliament Hill

There's no small irony that we're hearing about the awkward backroom sexual interactions of Parliamentarians at the same time they're making decisions about sex work.
One other piece to add to the mix, though - ABC.  That is, Always Be Closing - the mantra of the salesperson.  This concept of always being on the hustle is the narrative spine of Laissez-Faire Capitalism, which is the system we have right now.  You have to push to get what you want.  No doesn't mean no, no is simply an invitation to probe further and get to yes.
Ever heard of Getting to Yes: How To Negotiate Agreement Without Giving In?  Ever hear of senior executive suggesting female employees need to be coming all the way to them and demanding promotions instead of expecting their work to be recognized on its own merits?
How about "kids these days, they're lazy, they aren't trying hard enough to get jobs, they want everything handed to them." ?
As the economy tightens and as the people at the top consciously or unconsciously start to reap the benefits of being kings and queen's of the hill, there's an increasing amount of pressure on everyone else to do the heavy lifting.  Which inevitably means sales.
Michael Hlinka is one of those that teaches young students to hustle, to set real-world expectations and fully admits that he abuses the perks of his position because he can.  The implication of what he says is "my position shouldn't exist as it does" but the lesson taught is "I get to there, my troubles are over." 
Don't take no for an answer.  Hustle.  Be aggressive in your sales.  It's all about completing the transaction - Always Be Closing.
Good for Pacetti, right?  He kept at it; intro at the bar, convinced her to go back to his place, drinks, clarified intent, closed the deal.  Transaction made.
Maybe the lead was weak, but he got it done.  High fives in the locker room, or the boardroom for stuff like that.
That's not exactly how we want to look at sex, though, is it?  If anything, Bill C-36 suggests we think sex should be an act between an engaged couple and that sex-as-exchange is morally wrong.
Of course, sex and sales are completely different things, right?  We fully expect rational-actor adults to realize there's a difference between "it's just business" when hard-selling people for cash or votes but something sociological when it comes to reproduction.

But where are the examples of these rational actors?  If anything, the evidence suggests that the aggressively successful people are more, not less likely to act the same way in their professional lives as they do in their personal lives.  Of even worse, having recognized a veneer of civility helps make it easier for people to give them what they want.
Ghomeshi shocked a nation (more because we enjoy the notion of being shocked than any actual surprise that a celebrity would act inappropriately).  #beenrapedneverreported started uncomfortable conversations about male sexual aggression towards women while touching on the dearth of EQ there is at all levels of society (but perhaps excessively so at the top of competitive fields like politics).
Now, there's this. 
Shelia Copps kneed her attacker in the groin; a pretty clear indication that advances weren't appreciated.  I would suggest that Ms. Copps has more balls than many of the men on Parliament Hill and it's not a reasonable expectation for every woman to be as aggressively self-defensive as that.
Pacetti pushed for what he wanted and created favourable conditions (his place, his booze) to get it.  Is that much different than looking for a majority government to push through omnibus bills with?  Is it any different from a youth seeking work setting their sights on a job they want and doing whatever they can to land it?
Which could very well be what Alexandara Constantinidis did.  Or Michael Sona did, and proudly so.  Or Sebastien Togneri did, because that was the example he had to emulate.
Frankly, anyone who's scored successive wins in politics has played this game.  Adjusting policies to win votes, attacking opponents to reduce their votes or a whole host of less polite tactics are all part of getting to yes at the ballot box.
We have tried to silo our actions for messaging purposes, because that's how messaging works.  We have ignored what troubles us and focused on low-hanging fruit, because that's how quick wins get amassed.  Yet as a consequence to all this, we have waded into a tangled, messy reality that we're trying to mask with a veneer of civility that is rapidly flaking off.
There are no individuals who bear the blame; there are no innocents.  We will never get out of this sticky mess of cultural dissonance without asking some hard questions of ourselves, our environments and our expectations of life, of work, and of society.
We have to grow past a functional fixedness on short-term wins and start discussing actual solutions.  This can't happen if we focus on transactions - we need to engage in relationships.  That means moving beyond the WE want THIS from THEM framing into something more #howmightwe move forward together?
If ever there was a time to commit sociology, it's now.  Right now.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Clarificaiton of Speech

When I raised Ms. Todd’s views during my Senate appearance, Senator Denise Batters responded that she had since “clarified her views on the bill.”
So I'm clear - an unelected Senator responded that a voter "clarified her views" on a bill that said voter - the mom of Amanda Todd - has previously and very diplomatically criticized?
"Clarified" is politics-speak jargon that really means "misspoke and is essentially issuing a retraction without having to apologize."  What Batters suggests is that has had a nudged change of heart on the Conservative Bill.
That's a big step further than Peter McKay saying "look, I talked to her and helped her understand the intent in a way that may wasn't clear before."  It's essentially saying that the woman whose dead daughter is being used to brand the bill is being manipulated or silenced by unelected partisans.
Think on that for a second.
Of course, all this could be cleared up if Carol Todd could express her current understanding and believe in committee.  Which she is not being allowed to do.
Her daughter's image is being used to promote a bill with components she disagrees with and she's being silenced so as not to muck up the narrative.
There's been more than a few people silenced in recent years; it started with bureaucrats, moved to not-for-profits, and now it's taking in private citizens.
If you don't find that troubling, then Harper was right - Canadians fundamentally don't care about Parliament.  That means our democracy no longer functions as designed.
And that's a matter that certainly deserves clarification.

The P Word

Pizzazz.  'Cause it couldn't be policy - people fundamentally don't care about that, right?  They want populism, like it's an addiction. 
No doubt Doug Ford would add celebrity to the PC's race, a bit of notoriety in a format that would get more attention that Tim Hudak did.
But is that really where they want to go?

Protocols, Comms and Consciousness

Two people alone in a room after drinking.  Why were they in the hotel room, as opposed to anywhere else?
You can pick one perspective and come to natural conclusions that are completely at odds with each other.
It's the same thing as women dressing sexy - does it make them feel empowered, the way a guy might feel better about himself in a suit, or is it the equivalent to primate female indicating they're in heat by flushed bums or phermonal release?
I tend to be very aware of what people's body language says about their thought process.  I look at people all the time, on transit, in crowd, to learn and contextualize; I look at their face to know what they're thinking, their body language for what they're feeling and their feet for where they're going.
Since #ghomeshi happened, and since the Parliament Hill thing erupted, I've been more acutely aware of how those forms of physical expression relate to me.  I have a pretty intense gaze - I don't blink a lot, I'm slightly myopic, but not enough that I feel I need to wear glasses all the time.  But when I look at someone, it's blatantly clear that's what I'm doing.
So, when I look at a woman and they know that's happening, how do they respond?  Am I sure I'm reading their language the way it's intended or could I be interpreting in a way that, at some level, is more what I want?
As I become more aware of all this interaction stuff on a conscious level, I realize how unnatural it is.  We "feel" our way through situations more than seek to understand them; we follow our gut, look for our win, etc.
The primary social defense mechanisms against this inability to look at oneself through the eyes of the other are laws; it's as true of religious edicts as it is our existing legal system.  The secondary mechanism we have is trade/transaction; if we can codify human interaction in transactional form, nothing is for free and therefore some boundaries can be set.
Neither of these methods are perfect, because they still rely to some degree on that thing we are struggling with - empathy.
This is why Restorative Justice and Roots of Empathy are so effective; they're all about strengthening our empathy muscle, which in turns gives us more control of how we flex our social engagement.
We don't celebrate this.  In fact, we discourage this; in our capitalist system, it's the transaction that's supposed to lead.  It also happens that a competitive, transaction-based model favours those with luck on their side, as they have more weight in negotiations, as well as sociopaths who have no empathy at all.
But this is the model we're recognizing as unconducive to dynamic growth in the Knowledge Economy and structural solutions for our social woes.
It's embarrassing - let's say humbling - to realize there's no protocol for harassment.  Why?  Because the implication is that they people who are supposed to have all the answers don't.  It's the same reason why the Jason Kenneys of the world are so opposed to apologies; it's too much like admitting weakness, which results in a weakened hand in negotiations.
Yet the truth is that protocols are only a temporary solution, as any imposed structure is.  We need to design-think the answer, which means a willingness to commit sociology. 
Even that isn't the full picture, because there's still a margin for error - and that's just plain inefficient.
This isn't to say there's no solution; there is. 
It's not one that can be imposed from without, though - it must be grown within.
Which is another message that has been kicking around for a while.