Lyrical Respect for the Dead

Don’t have much time for an entry as I’m leaving in 15 or so to head to work. But I couldn’t resist posting this little nugget of joy.

Raffi basically gave me the music for my childhood, and now he gives me the soundtrack–or at least some of it–for my adulthood.

If you don’t live in Canada or follow its politics, you probably don’t know who Jack Layton is: an MP who led the New Democratic Party (NDP) up until he lost his battle with cancer last August. Prior to that, in the most recent election, he led the NDP party to the minority house leader in Parliament, which is a huge thing to do against the Liberals here.

But sadly, as I say, he left this world a few months ago. He must have known he was on his way out, because he wrote a heartfelt “Letter To A Nation” before he left. Raffi took that saddening letter and turned it into a song, which he is not making money off of, just handing it out to Canadians for free.

Raffi is a guy who is well known for his children’s songs and sing alongs, and he makes me very, very happy. So for me, it’s fantastic that the two have come together to create something that is beautiful in the wake of a death of a great leader.

The Clean-Up Lure Doesn’t Work… So Far.

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I think it’s high time I wrote something about the Wall Street Occupation that has been going on for near a month now (I think a month to the day tomorrow).

If you heard about it late, don’t feel too bad. There’s been lack of media coverage on this very important, potentially world-changing event, up until very recently. Basically, hundreds to thousands of angry individuals and groups have been gathering on or near Wall Street in New York City to express their frustration with the inefficiencies of the current economic situation, especially in the U.S. and with Wall Street. They call themselves the 99%, meaning anyone lower than the 1% most wealthy in the U.S.

The general stance of the GOP was very much against this group of gross hippies, but recently in a Republican debate, many of them started to cautiously agree with the idea of the protest, though they did suggest that the protesters must start to rally against the government, not Wall Street itself. (Me personally, I’ve always found the argument against government as played by the GOP very odd and a bit hypocritical. Even if they are for a mostly hands off government, aren’t they still the government? Anyway…)

But just recently, both Bloomberg (mayor of NYC) and the owners of Zucotti Park (where many protesters are camping out) threatened to essentially evict protesters, citing needs for cleaning the park. Whether or not they would allow protesters back in after said cleaning is foggy. So what’s the good news? Well, as of this morning, the cleaning has been postponed!

And the other bit of good news should be obvious: people are giving a damn. This protest has sparked sister sit-ins and occupations around the U.S. and the world. It doesn’t matter that they don’t have a list of specific demands, for which a lot of media outlets are unfairly criticizing the masses. (See some great articles here and here on that.) It matters that the world is watching and potentially changing over this. Even if this American Autumn isn’t going to be the shot heard around the world, at the very least it is the first sign of the death of apathy. Eventually someone will have to turn up the volume and listen.

The revolution will not be televised, but it will for damn sure be on YouTube.

Burma Dam & The Social Activists that Helped Stop It

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I won’t pretend that I knew a whole lot about this ongoing issue in Burma. But the article popped up on my daily reading of BBC, and this phrase sparked my little heart, “The suspension is seen as a rare victory for social activists.”

You can read all about it in the article here, but apparently the president of Burma decided to stop work on a dam that was going to displace thousands of Kachin villagers.

Why should you care? This kind of insurgency and outrage isn’t new for this area. According to the Beeb, it’s been super violent in this region in the last decade. This seemingly small move is really important for the Burman people. Another quote from the article I love, from a man who is quoting his president, “He said that his government, being born out of people’s desire, has to act according to the desire of the people.” And who said idealism is dead?

If this particular topic interests you, I’ve added some links here as well:

Green Energy? Yes We Can.

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I, for one, have always wondered what the big deal is with changing over to green energy. (Says the naive girl.) I know it has to do with a number of things, including sleazy politics, an unwillingness to change, big business, and just plain denial. But really, at the end of the day, whether or not global warming really exists (are we really going to argue that one, people?), isn’t it a good thing to protect the earth we’re living in? Give something back? Certainly it can’t hurt.

And it seems I have found some clues suggesting the U.S. government is starting to pick up on it. This article talks about a new report from the Department of Energy suggesting that there is a greater investment in efficient cars and car related technology, which will possibly help more in the long run than making efficient homes and buildings. Their logic makes sense when you consider how long a car usually runs versus how long a building will stand.

The article links to another article, which is worth recommending on its own. According to a bunch of multinational engineers, we have the technology now to reduce emissions by 85% by the year 2050. 85%, people! That’s incredible.

(And by the way, the website Good from where I got these articles in the first place is generally recommended for your daily positive reading. Not every post is beaming with sunshine and it is loaded with a liberal bias, but it’s well written and researched.)

Generally what happens in the U.S. affects what happens here in Canada, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Harper wants to copycat these particular recommendations.

Innovation When The Motivation = Lives Saved

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Well, well, well, good on you, NY Times… they seem to be doing a series of articles called “Small Fixes,” which cover innovative ideas that–so far–are working really well around the world to save lives. Most of these life-saving inventions revolve around things we here in the developed world take for granted. For example:

Clean Water: I myself have fantastic spring water at my house; I’ve even had friends bring their water bottles over and stock up on its fantasticness. Not so much in developing countries, but a Swiss company called LifeStraw is changing things. Read about it here and how it purifies water for individuals and families that don’t have access to clean water.

Lower Risk of Cervical Cancer: This particular treatment used by medical practitioners in Thailand sounds strangely like a home remedy; it involves simple household vinegar to detect the presence of cervical cancer in women. Used purely as a proactive solution, I love it.

There are a few more inventions and ideas that Times is talking about in their science section. You can find them in the left hand column if you click on the links to these articles. Hurray for smart and generous people!

Coffee’s Terrible Reputation – Redeemed!

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Coffee has always been bashed for being supposedly unhealthy. At my local health food store, I can find scores of coffee alternatives and substitutes for those weaning themselves off the black stuff. When I make coffee in the morning, my partner jokingly refers to this process of cooking up my drugs. But it seems that critics might be too quick to call out the drink that is the most traded liquid after water and oil.

Undoubtedly caffeine can be an addictive substance, but more and more research is suggesting that coffee is actually good for you.

Take this recent article from BBC, for example. It seems we’ve discovered that coffee could, in fact, help prevent depression. Or this one from The Times which suggests that espresso in combination with an active lifestyle could help prevent skin cancer. Even Harvard has some good things to say.

Everything in moderation, of course. Though it’s redundant to say “too much coffee is bad for you.” (“Well of course too much is bad for you. Too much of anything is bad for you, you blithering twat – that’s what too much means. Too much water would be bad for you. Obviously, too much is precisely that quantity which is excessive – that’s what it means!” – so says Stephen Fry) But I don’t think it should come as any great surprise that a drink that has been drunk for hundreds, near thousands of years is a-okay.

Me, as I type, I have my second cup this morning next to me, now going cold. My great-grandmother, who lived to be nearly 101, drank a pot of coffee before going to bed.