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Archive for the ‘Personal Stuff and Housekeeping’ Category

So it’s really hard to resist feeling good about being Canadian.

Especially when as of this post, Canadians are second in gold medals at Sochi. But you know what makes me even happier? Knowing that these great results are due to the success of Canadian women, who happen to also be my favouritest people. Fun fact: did you know I’ve been involved pretty much exclusively in romantic relationships with Canadian women? And now they’re best in the world in the winter Olympics? So that probably means that, by relation, I must be best in the world in something.

But Canada isn’t perfect.

We have a serious problem with government interference in science, we’re in the middle of serious backslides in both environmental and foreign policy, and most worrisome, far too many Canadians are still in the midst of serious epidemics of poverty, disease, and racism.

Canada needs to be better.

I think about this quite a bit. I love Canada, but I’m always angry about things happening in my city, my province, and pretty much every other city and province. I’m angry about how it’s still okay to most people to speak down about First Nations, to be ignorant of just how much privilege most white Canadians have. And I’m angry at myself, for looking at the negative when I should be working for the positive.

Because Canada can be better.

Canada can earn the right to call itself the best nation on earth, not just rest on our laurels because we’re blessed with natural resources, economic stability, and good governance (for the most part). We need to ensure that every Canadian has the opportunities that 90% of Canadians take for granted. And we need to start working on that today, before the final medals are awarded and everyone packs up and goes home.

So here’s what I’m doing:

1. Learning more about the future. There are significant changes coming, from increased automation to environmental degradation. It’s close to impossible to plan for the future if you don’t have any idea of what’s happening next year.

2. Learning more about economics and social programs. I want to be a part of the effort to improve the economic and social health of Canadians, but I’m still not sure of what that means. There are very exciting ideas being talked about, things like Universal Basic Income, and I want to know more about them.

3. Working on my soft skills. I’m a bit of a jerk, and definitely not a political animal. So I definitely need to think about what I do, in my personal and professional life, and how I can improve my behaviour and my results.

4. Planning my eventual “triumphant return” to somethingAm I running for office? Maybe joining an organization that does stuff. Heck, maybe I’ll just run for mayor. Who knows?

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After a few technical hiccups from Amazon, the eBook version of After The Fires Went Out: Coyote is now available. (the paperback version will be out on Feb 6th)

For you website aficionados, I’ve posted a 19,000 word excerpt on my other blog.

So do your part to support people writing stuff instead of making durable goods with tangible value by buying a book today (preferably mine).

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In the wake of the terrible events in Newtown, Connecticut, there has been an outpouring of opinions and anger, but mostly grief. Obviously Winnipeg has been affected less than New England, but more than other places, with one family having lived in Winnipeg before moving to Newtown. But even if we had no connection aside from the basic feeling of love for the children in our lives, it would still have hit us hard. It did hit us hard long before we knew much about what happened at all.

But the biggest problem with the tragedy in Connecticut is the feeling of complete helplessness. You can hug your child or say a prayer, but for many people that doesn’t feel like enough. For my wife, that didn’t come anywhere close to being enough. So she decided to do something about that.

27 Acts for Newtown began as a way for my wife, Christine, to do something. She knows it won’t help the families in Connecticut, but she knows it helps her cope with the pain, and she knows that it does a little something for other people, too.

The idea is simple: commit 27 acts of kindness, one for each victim. These acts don’t have to be big, but they have to be something that you feel makes the world just that much better.

If you’re interested, you can join the Event on Facebook, or you can just start doing something kind for someone else.

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Rather than write something about the world around me, which would require at least a half-hearted attempt at research (failed twice on that over the past week due to an unfortunate lack of interest)…

Regan Wolfrom, Political Hack now presents Regan Wolfrom, Speculative Fiction Hack. Do not click through unless you love sex with aliens.

Free Fiction: Not Even Once [NSFL]

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Are you getting sick of people who think that things are getting better all the time?  I am, and it’s hard to ignore the biggest positive-thinking idiot I deal with on a daily basis: me.

I wasn’t always like this; I used to think the worst of everything. And I still know how to go on a serious rant about the driver in the lane next to me or those incompetent managers who can’t seem to keep a steady supply of apple slices in their restaurants. But that’s little picture stuff… the big picture, I’m afraid, is bright.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t know that bad things happen, or that I am unaware of the suffering that happens around me every day. I’ve seen far too many parents lose their children, and too many people living in bad situations that don’t have any easy solutions. But that doesn’t change the fact that overall, things improve over time through human progress.

The key to my thinking is the progressive/reactive rate of succession. This is different than the rate of reproduction, as social conservatives have a higher birthrate than social liberals. (I’m talking social only; fiscal conservatives may have a birthrate that correlates more with tax laws regarding dependents. That may be a bad joke or a startling insight.) What the rate of succession denotes is that the chance of a socially conservative family raising a progressive child is much, much higher than the chance of a progressive family raising a child who is socially conservative.

This means that every generation results in a higher percentage of socially progressive individuals compared to the one that came before. Inevitably, this change in the worldview of the population results in a shift in what society views as “progressive”. In 18th century Britain, “progressive” meant things like letting slightly less wealthy landowners vote. In 19th century America, “progressive” meant abolishing slavery and the even crazier notion of letting women vote. In the mid 20th century progressive meant sharing drinking fountains with people of all races, and later on the bar moved to improving the treatment of people with minority sexual orientations. What seems progressive to many of us today, such as letting two men or two women marry one another, will seem perfectly normal to our children. Whether or not you think that’s good or bad, it’s the future of humanity. At least until people start living forever.

But social progression is not just about equality, it’s about solving other problems in the world. Progressives can often seem whiny when they’re going on about climate change or fair trade or proportional representation, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. (However, I will still be annoyed when my daughter starts lecturing me on how poor I am at recycling my plastics.)

When I look at problems that seem almost insurmountable, I look at the progressive shift of society and realize that many of them will simply take time. That time is mixed in with equal parts hard work, sacrifice, and innovative thinking, but the cake won’t rise if you don’t give it the time it needs. Look forward, or look backward, and you can see the same recipe.

Convenient yet Controversial Example: Civil Wars

  1. English Civil War: on one side, Absolute Monarchy; on the other, Theocratic Oligarchy. Today, both sides are completely out-of-date in England. (For our younger readers, England used to be a country and not just a soccer team.)
  2. American Civil War (or more accurately, the War Between the States): On one side, States Rights and Slavery; on the other, A Stronger Federal Government and Far Less Slavery But Not Racial Equality. Americans seem to be divided today between people who think the war was all about slavery, and people who think the war was never about slavery. But mostly North and South just make fun of each other in private.
  3. Irish Civil War: we all think that this one is over, but we probably won’t be sure for another twenty years or so. I’ve never been there, so I can’t say if the idea of Protestants and Catholics killing each other in Belfast seems as utterly ridiculous to the Irish as it now does to the rest of us.
  4. Conflict in the Indian Sub-Continent (India/Pakistan/Bangladesh): This one’s not over, but I like to think that it’s headed in the right direction. My general rule: when the attacks get more frightening and even less rational (assault on Indian parliament, attack on Mumbai), it’s the beginning of the end of the conflict. However, events in Afghanistan and Pakistan that are mostly unrelated to India could prolong the trouble here.
  5. Conflict in the Middle East: Considered by many as the big one (which seems odd compared to the item above). Israel will never be secure if they treat Palestinian Arabs as enemies. The biggest boost to Arab regimes (and to Iran’s dictators) is Israeli reactionism in the face of extremist terrorism. The conflicts in Gaza, the West Bank, South Lebanon (wash, rinse, repeat) are continually “rebooting” the crisis for each succeeding generation, which I believe is slowing the progressive shift for Israelis and Arabs. I don’t live there, so I can’t claim to know for sure, but I sincerely believe that Israel will need to stop dropping bombs and start building Palestinian infrastructure (for Arabs, not Israeli settlers) in order to resolve this conflict. Demographics are against Israel on this one, and even with Jewish immigration there will be more Arabs than Jews in Palestine long before the end of this century. The only way to win the peace is to create a new federation that brings both nations together on equal footing. Two or more states, one federal government, with state legislatures being provided a veto procedure for major policy?  That’s my guess for 2060. Israel is already elected as one large constituency, so one day there could be 2-5 of them instead, including Gaza and the West Bank. And by 2150, the schoolchildren of Palestine will not even be quite sure which of the states were originally part of Israel. Many people living today wouldn’t like to see such a change, but it’s probably coming either way.

The same completely subjective reasoning can be applied to other situations, such as the energy crisis and the divide between rich and poor. We will solve these problems if we follow the recipe. Hard work, sacrifice, and innovation… mix it together in a large bowl and add an ample portion of time. It’s not just conjecture; it’s now something I can post on AllRecipes.com: the progressive shift will continue to make our world a better place.

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I’ve been silent for a while, and that silence will likely continue for the next few weeks.  I’m part of a new venture that will be launching shortly.  Like most visionaries, I’m hoping to hop on board this Internet phenomenon that I read about back in 1995.

Meanwhile, I have other news.  I have two short stories available for purchase… an excellent addition to your Regan shrine:

Aether Age: Helios

M-Brane SF Quaterly #1

As far as political issues and current affairs… no comment at the moment.  We’ll see if I get mouthier as the days get longer.

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In the past five years since I returned to Winnipeg, I’ve been disappointed, dissatisfied, and oftentimes in complete disbelief of how governance is done in Winnipeg.  I’ve seen community centres and historic buildings knocked down simply to create empty lots for cars and/or garbage.  I’ve seen construction projects planned that seem to revel in increasing costs while alienating neighbouring residents and businesses.  I’ve even seen a mayor who changes his mind on rapid transit more often than I change my pants.  Whether or not I change my pants often enough, you can guess that there’s too much flip-flopping on the transit issue.

So because of my love of sticking my nose into this or that issue, I’ve had some people ask me why I don’t run for city council.  I seem to know about the issues, and I apparently have the ability to stand up in front of council and voice my opinion.  I also think that it’s something that I could devote myself to, hopefully for the right reasons.

But life happens, and it happened quite a bit to me.  Unfortunately, I have been dealing with a serious illness in my family, one that has been progressing for many years and has now reached the point where it sometimes takes me away from my normal life for days and weeks at a time.  That is sad, but there is happy, too… exhausted happy… my wife just gave birth to my second child, a son, and over the second half of September we’ve been getting used to the life of having both a newborn and possibly the world’s most active toddler.  So obviously we’ve been pretty busy.

But those aren’t the only reasons why I had to step back from politics.  The truth is, politics is a full-time job.  Every time I’ve gotten deeply involved in something political, I’ve had to choose between work and politics, and one or the other always suffers.  For now, I’ve chosen work.

But wait, there’s more…

There are too many candidates in Elmwood-East Kildonan for me to want to enter the race.  There’s the NDP-nominated candidate, the candidate who lost the NDP nod and was allegedly then expelled from the party for still deciding to run, the Conservative/PC party’s hockey-themed candidate, and two others, Nelson Sanderson and Gordon Warren.  If I were going to run in such a race, I would have needed to start around May at the latest, and the task would have required my full attention through the summer and up to Election Day.  Even then, I’d be running against a candidate that all NDP members are supposed to vote for, and a candidate that all Conservatives are supposed to vote for.  Sounds too much like another election I ran in.  🙂

The truth is that I don’t know which Elmwood-East Kildonan candidate is the right choice, nor do I know if some or all of them would have done as good or a better job than me.  Running for office should be done for the right reasons.  I ran in the provincial by-election for Elmwood because I felt that it was important to give voters a choice between the NDP (not a fan) or the PCs (also not a fan); I didn’t do it because I thought I could win (although I did start to hope that I could), and I certainly didn’t do it for a paycheque or for the approval of the people I went to high school with.  If I had run in Elmwood – East Kildonan this year, it wouldn’t have been for any reason other than the fact that some people think I should, and that I think it would be interesting.  If I’m going to switch back to politics for six months, I’m going to do it because I know it’s the right thing to do.

Maybe in 2014 I’ll find the right reason to run… but since I’m going to put so much effort in, maybe I should just run for mayor.

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