Not so different after all…

May 20, 2009

Traditional hijabCanadian Climate BurkaNorth Americans are the biggest hypocrites! We Canadians readily submit ourselves to a meteorological climate so hostile that merely revealing an ear to the world can lead to permanent injury.  The picture on the left was taken this morning, on May 20th. MAY! Here I am, bundled to the hilt, in a society that would happily let me skip around in little more than a couple of spandex triangles.

How dare we judge our sisters, whose own climate, albeit cultural, dictates an identical costume. Her and I are both madly in love with our countries and our families; why shouldn’t we dress for the best chance of success and acceptance in both. What is freedom? Do I really have the freedom to run through the snow in a bikini? Can my personal choice to expose my body to frostbite ever be comparable to the cultural reprimand one of my sisters might face if she rebelled in similar fashion?

Hmmm.

 (hijab image source)


Best Political Cartoons: The Canadian Coalition Chimera

December 8, 2008

 Oh Canada!!

What reels and groans deep in the black murk of the Ottawa River? What strikes terror into the hearts of Stephen Harper and Michaelle Jean? Can it be? The Coalition Chimera lives! Brilliant illustrator Christina Nichols, who also happens to be my coworker, shows us the ugly, but beautifully brilliant, one true hope for Canada’s future.

Update: The central head – ‘The Dion’ – has been lopped off! But – Oh the horror – a new and ever so much more depraved above-the-neck entity has grown back in its place – ‘The Ignatieff’. Noooooooooo! Has anyone been utterly horrified at the lack of clarity, focus, and coherence in the man’s writing?


After the crash: Looking beyond the stock market to the new “Microconomy”

November 24, 2008

The next mutation, or evolution (depending on your creed), of our Western economic model will consist of a major upheaval in the trend of monopolization. Instead of localizing our needs geographically, as shown by the proliferation of big box one-stop shops, and administratively (all those endless mergers), we will see a dramatic shift towards a new model – the “microconomy“.

The microconomy will be a gradual reversal of monopolization, facilitated (if not necessitated) by the Internet. Historically, monopolization has been favoured for its ability to reduce operating (parts manufacture, administration, shipping, communication) costs and to boost the perceived “authority” of the parent company. This concept of authority was vital in the old economic model, because it fostered feelings of security and trust in the minds of both customers and employees. For example, the stock market used its perception of authority to secure seemingly endless investments from a naturally near-sighted public and from fellow money monopolizers (aka fat cats).

Authority is a universal concept, modeled for eons by families, governments, and religions, as well as in our present day globalized economy. But there’s change afoot. The recent popularity of political democracies is part of a relatively new global trend. Its evidence can be found everywhere, from the rejection of organized religion, to the breakup of the nuclear family. This trend, the gradual focusing on the individual, on his/her opinions and his/her personal power, unavoidably leads its subscribers to a bloated sense of individual entitlement and a rejection of authority – two traits that ‘just don’t jive’ with our current economic model. Why? Personal entitlement (ex: Loreal’s slogan “you’re worth it”), mixed with innate human greed, fueled the stock (and morgage) bubble, and our rejection of these conglomerates’ unquestioned authority (and therefore their contingent security) popped it!

So what’s next? Our generation has grown up in online communities linked by common interests rather than geography or generalized class systems. A new market model, without getting into all that nitty gritty supply/demand graphing, is on the horizon. The new “microconomy” will use personal entitlement to motivate both buyers and sellers in a net-based network of individuals using their “soft-skills” to meet each others needs and wants. Authority will not be assumed, but will be dynamic and trackable, based on individual sellers’ records (much like Ebay ratings), customer comments, and with how prominently they are linked in the network.

The microconomy will take people out of the conventional workplace and allow them to transition to the soft-skills marketplace of the home and like-interest groups. Skills and interest groups will connect on the network, but will travel and meet physically within the local community. In the old system, we are overly connected, not to people, but to transient images of people. In the microconomy, these people become real and whole.

Convenience and personalization are two key components that must be highlighted in this new model. The microconomy will be about sourcing the best of what we need/want, and making energizing person-to-person connections with new interested minds. The closest analogy would be the ol’ town square. The geographic convenience of a Walmart will be replaced by the logistical convenience of a local network of sellers of “hard” and “soft” goods. People will have the opportunity to specialize in their areas of expertise and interact in enriching ways, while eliminating so much of the “busy work” inherent in administrating and operating our present conglomerates.

There is an unbelievable glut of information, skill, talent, passion, and, yes, even money, circulating in our present economy. The microconomy will eliminate the “middle man” and connect people within their communities in meaningful ways. We are the first generation trained on the tools that will bring it all together. Now if only we could find the time…

(Note: This opinion essay is an original work by Cymbria Wood and should not, in a perfect world, be quoted or posted without a reference to this blog – thank you)


Why Obama won’t kiss up to the cool kids anymore

August 28, 2008

Journalists can be notorious for twisting quotes out of context, but where do these quotes come from in the first place? Their choice of sources is often the larger crime. Think about it…

I just finished reading Ryan Lizza’s The New Yorker article, “Making It”, which chronicles Barack Obama’s roller-coaster relationship with Chicago politics in the 1990s. He played the game to win…yada yada…stepped on some toes…yada yada. Obama rarely brings people’s focus to that time in his life, preferring to concentrate on his successes at Harvard, his community organizing, and his recent (“let’s change the nation”) political career. Lizza speculates that this omission is intentional, that Obama has something to hide. I beg to disagree. He was learning the rules, and that meant playing and experimenting with loyalties and messages. Can you really blame him? How else can one hope to become master of the game?

I liken it to High School. Now all his old “cool kid” friends from Chicago are bitter he never kept up with them through college. He left them behind. He had to. By their very nature, political loyalties are stifling, centered on interpersonal obligations, and crippling to any notion of change. No one in “the ol’ boys club” has the wherewithal to peek over the shoulder of the back they’re scratching. Contrary to Lizza’s take, I find Obama’s “perceived” betrayals heartening. Here is a man who has learned the rules, but has the guts to bend them to his vision’s needs. A little toe stepping gives him the freedom to move forward, provided he can still cultivate trust and confidence when necessary.

A journalist’s choice of sources will colour any reader’s view of the subject being profiled. Obama comes out of Lizza’s article looking conniving instead of astute, underhanded instead of strategic. And sure, if you asked my high school boyfriends to paint my portrait, I would come out looking like, well, a whole lot like the 2-D canvas of Dorian Gray. I’ll be honest, there may be some “minor” toe stepping to blame lol. I was still learning the rules of the game *wink*. Ask my other (past/present) contacts, and I’d like to think you’d get a more three-dimensional person, hopefully suggesting a keen mind and loving heart – and Oh Oh, can’t forget, possibly with great hair too ; )

Obama campaigning for State Senate on Chicago’s South Side

Obama campaigning for State Senate on Chicago’s South Side

(Image source: The New Yorker)


Barbara Walters comfirms America’s greatest fear

June 5, 2008

“What (the AIDS ward toddler) knows, in some primal way, is that someone special is about to show up. When (Bill) Clinton finally walks through the door, looking seven feet tall as he often does, the child’s face breaks into a giant grin, expectations met.” – Rebecca Trainster, Elle magazine.

On last night’s The Daily Show, Jon Stewart asked guest Barbara Walters if she could feel a unique ‘presence’ when interviewing the world’s most powerful leaders. Her answer (only slightly paraphrased lol):

Jimmy Carter= Charasmatic intensity

Fidel Castro= Charasmatic strength and humour

George W Bush= Charasmatic personal confidence

Charisma, whatever its source, is a requirement for any successful world leader, especially in this media mad culture. The quote that begins this post demonstrates Bill Clinton’s charisma. His may have been more sensually sourced, but still gave him the larger than life persona crucial to inspiring a nation’s confidence.

Does Obama have “it”? Barbara Walters doesn’t think so.

She told Stewart a heartbreaking story about a conversation she had with Obama after one of his campaign speeches. Walters introduced herself and, after a quick chat, invited him to be a guest on The View.

“I’ve been a guest your program before,” he said

“You have? I’m so sorry I wasn’t there that day,” replied Walters.

“You were,” said Obama.


Obama and the desk – a vision I can’t shake

May 15, 2008

Two years from now… Barack Obama standing, shoulders slumped, hands clasping and unclasping, staring at the monolithic desk before him; his jaw set hard to hide a quivering chin. The desk is a monument, a resolute symbol in dark wood, solid and immovable. Obama closes his eyes and accepts the grim realization that the most powerful man in the world is totally, utterly, powerless.

Model of the Resolute desk in the recreated Oval Office at the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum.