2014 Stapleford Lecture on Senate Reform at #UofR

Part 1

I really have to disagree with Dr. Barnhart, who had the power to sign, or refuse to sign laws of Saskatchewan into effect while Lieutenant Governor, that he is a powerful person. Now his influence may be lessened, even to the point where Global TV won’t keep a promise to him, but he did get invited to to a prestigious lecture for the UofR too, didn’t he?

There’s a time to be modest, and a time to be real.

Part 2

Beyond The Book Lecture: John Gormley – #UofR 2014

Gormley at UofR

I’ve been to a lot of University of Regina lectures over the years. None by a right wing radio commentator, until tonight, and it didn’t turn out how I expected. I know there are people who reeeally don’t like John Gormley and his radio show. I used to listen to it frequently while I worked in a job that had me in a car most of the day, traveling the province’s east side. I’ve not really tuned in too much the past 6 years, while I work meters from where his talk was given Tuesday night. It’s not easy to get wrapped up in a talk radio show while at a front-desk job. I wouldn’t want to start talking to myself, at the radio, for the whole Library to hear.

John Gormley

Idle No More showed up and disrupted his lecture. After Campus Security showed up, the three noisy protesters relented and were escorted off campus (I was told later by an employee at the University). Others who supported the protest stayed behind to ask difficult questions of Gormley. He dodged the last one completely, refusing to opine why we need and should accept polluted rivers in our prosperous province.

I got a few interviews from opposing perspectives, after his talk. They’re at the end of the video (visible after YouTube processes it).
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Nahlah Ayed in Regina for Minifie Lecture at #UofR

She was crunched for time in writing a speech, something she’s not used to doing either, so she wrote a diary of her recent coverage in Ukraine and made it interesting by giving the back story to reporting in a region that could break out into open war. She grew up in Winnipeg. One questioner at the end noted it was nice to be able to see her smile, since her job doesn’t permit it as she’s reporting from tense situations overseas.

Nahlah Ayed

She bemoaned the lack of coverage of South America in North America, and dodged the question if there were stories she’d pushed for not covered. The pictured painted was one of needing to leave news uncovered because of deadlines to file. Places had to go unseen because there’s only one reporter, one team from the CBC there. The schedule is tight, and deadlines are pushed to extremes. Social media adds another pressure, but may be essential to reach a new audience.

I think it’s too bad there’s a culture of media censorship not talked about in Canada, where some stories are shunned and journalists are not able to speak of which ones without facing retribution from their distribution owners and editors.

Overall the talk was a success, even though she’d not finished writing it on the plane to Regina. Foreign correspondents probably deliver their best material under an impossible deadline, anyway.

Nahlah Ayed and John Klein

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First Nations Get $0.3M for Solar Research #skpoli

The Conservative government generously gave First Nations in Saskatchewan enough grant money to build one impressively sized solar array that could power a half dozen homes.

Ontario is going with $5,000M.

SaskPower gave 10 times the recent federal contribution, to the UofR to research how to put CO2 underground so more oil can be pumped out of the Weyburn area.

Lockheed manufactures illegal weapons, and is part of the F-35 dud stealth bomber boondoggle.

Solar is not “concentrated” in SK as explained in the article, we just have more sun hitting the ground throughout the year than most of Canada. There’s no magnifying glass aimed at Regina or Estevan, fortunately.

$300K is better than a kick in the teeth, I suppose. It’s to be used on little demonstration projects. It’s 2013, and Germany has already done a country-wide demonstration project that we can wholesale adopt here in Saskatchewan. Let’s get on with it already.

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Defending WikiLeaks and Whistleblowers

1:08:38 SFU History grad, Sean Tucker of Business Administration, “I don’t know if we need a Whistleblower policy on campus or something”.

An academic has their priorities askew if they don’t protect whistleblowing, even while its result is not directly in the immediate favour of their organization. Protecting the right to speak and hear the truth, is an important aspect of a functioning democracy and a transparent academic institution.

1:16:16 I speak my mind. I’d rather the University offer WikiLeaks server space, if there’s any sort of policy on whistle-blowing.

TD;CSR. OMG No Way!

2012 was a strong year for TD, despite ongoing economic challenges and market volatility. Our total adjusted earnings were more than $7 billion dollars — up more than $600 million, or about 10 per cent, from 2011.

-Colleen Johnston, Group Head and Chief Financial Officer, TD Bank Group

Through a generous contribution of $350,000, TD Bank Group is helping Aboriginal students at the University of Regina realize their educational potential.

$350,000 / $7,000,000,000 = 0.005%

Thank-you to TD Bank, generously sharing the wealth of their outstanding profits from oil and gas.
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Kevin Page at Journalism School and #UofR

Former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, now a professor at the UofO, was a guest at the UofR’s J-School, then CCPA sponsored lecture on Thursday night. I live-tweeted the events, hashtag #PBOPage. Here are recordings of his evening talk.

Kevin Page and Saskboy

Jeffrey Simpson – Live blog

Rick Kleer giving introduction to Simpson.
7:01pm non fiction book writing award winner. Written many political books since the early ’80s.

7:05 Simpson starts.
Was a baseball fan. Persuaded the Jays were going to be contenders, so arranged for viewing them in Minnesota. Got the Riders’s colors wrong as Green and yellow. Pitcher was from North Battleford.

Simpson

Interested observer to the university scene. The hardest job in the country can be university president, besides PM or Premier. Going outside their ranks to find a leader. Private sector does this if something is wrong. He’s often wondered why talent isn’t groomed from within. It’s partly the
politics inside is so tough, the prospective candidates get beat up so badly. Devil we don’t know as opposed to the devil we do.

There are counter examples.

Simpson says Saskatchewan like an easterner.

7:13 “series of financial challenges on our plate.”
Talking economic projections. I’ve tuned out a little.
He praises Sask economy as if we aren’t in deficit budget. Says Alberta depends on oil revenue. Doesn’t acknowlage we do too.
Alberta “took a big whack” out of university budgets.

“Universities are good at adding, but not so good at subtracting.”

ON universities were being cut 3% per year. Cutting across the board was not his preferred strategy. Identify the weak areas and where they are strongest over other universities. It’s unbelivably hard. “Administrators shy away from the task” it leads to unpopularity.

7:27
Education is an investment in the future.
“Healthcare is an investment in the accumulated ills of yesterday.”

A situation…
The government’s principle priority is to get students into universities.
We have more demand for university, and less teaching supply because professor supply can’t keep up. Class sizes at bigger universities is a serious problem. Interaction between profs and students is poor. UofT is down at the bottom of Macleans survey because of this.

He lists the silliness that can go on at universities, as being a primary challenge to overcome. The general population not involved doesn’t get that stuff. They don’t like it.

Citizens instead of widget makers.
(no money to be a citizen, it’s all debt now, I note)

Graduation rates being too low…
Another objective.
Outcomes based financing model in the USA.
Trying not to duplicate other university outcomes.

If uni is squeezed financially, governments may think they’ll make the hard decisions on cuts and priorities, so the government doesn’t have to directly.

Doing video now…

No more ten cent Globe in hotels, it costs a dollar to put that paper together. No more northern BC or Newfoundland $1M delivery.
If newspapers stick with old model, they are done for.
Uni must change too.
7:48

Dr. Goldenberg – God’s Role in Government -Liveblog

At the Filmpool, , where an overfull crowd has gathered for the Herman Lecture Series (UofR religious studies lecture).
7:06 introductions are done by Luther College and another. Luther HS students present for a class assignment.

What is religion and what does it have to do with governments around the world? Huge question. You can see details everywhere.

She’s from Ottawa now; was from the States. American education didn’t prepare her to know Ottawa was the capital.

Museum of Civilization discussed. An exhibit last year about God(s) “a users guide”.
Ottawa not first place for this. Brussels featured it first. Quebec was to have it in Quebec City next.
Some rooms had fake clouds. Clothing. Depiction of Basilica. Text.
“Religion is too many things to be confined to one definition.”
“A grid for interpreting the world.”
“Hard pressed to name anything religion is not,” she says.
Ad for exhibit was to depict different religion representing same base understanding of the world.

In late 1800s some theologians realized Christian understanding was not universal. They had other religions. “Primitive prototypes of Christianity.”

Religions being thought of as able to be studied scientifically, is flawed I think. Isolating variables as broad as a religion, is not practical for a study.

“Peace, happiness, and harmony” are what we all want from our religion, that’s generally understood in Canada. This idea may not be the case, says I.

There is a lot of fear. Fear was not mentioned at the museum. Circumcision was not even mentioned. “Anxiety” was present. Open questions to panelists were closed down after an open-mic question about Islam set organizers on edge.

7:29 I didn’t get a seat facing the screen, I’m literally well behind the speaker. Without a proper chair, my back is protesting my backless makeshift stool.

The lecture is at a pretty advanced level. I’m missing some points for live notes.

Religion, and states.
- courts
- concern religion guides states.

Switzerland concerned about Minarets in a poster. Suggests a burka clad woman is a sign aggressive Muslim men are “getting a foothold in Switzerland”. Populace shows signs of concern about Islam challenging the state’s monopoly on violence.

“Dichotomy”, “vestigial states”, some of the heavy words being tossed about in an admittedly “dry” portion of the lecture.

Biden Bible discussed.
Reference to God in swearing-in of politicians.

Canadian Constitution. “Supremacy of God and the rule of law.”
A punitively superior power remained over Canada, no longer the King/Queen.

-Vestigial states called religions…

image

-Druids
Druids became dis-empowered. “A past sovereignty”. Wicca and pagans help her thesis that religions are vestigial states.

Jewish history.
Christians have defined their dogma as “not Judaism”, which also helps to define Judaism as “not Christianity”.
She proposes each is a container, for states in waiting. “Containment and survival”.

Foreign powers have been the guarantors of Jewish statehood.
The Torah once served as the constitution of Jews in Palestine.

Review of Schwartz.

Canada is not a religion just because God is in the first line of our constitution.

Religion becomes useful after colonization, to both sides.

“There’s no religion in the bible, its all about government.” She sometimes tells her students, after having described several understandings of the passage “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s & God what is God’s.” Divine power different and subordinate to state power, but possibly challenging given some circumstances.

She says we are not served well by the Museum’s thesis. Instead we should open our eyes, as a street artist said on a modified poster ad. View the history of religions as past states.

Questions. Should we ask rude questions?

image

Goldenberg wants religion to be studied critically.

She went at least three times to the exhibit. Paid each time. Is concerned of the sheep-like model for the exhibit when the motivation of the exhibit is fear and it’s skirted.

Question. Example of a religion that gained statehood? Israel an obvious example. They gained sovereign violence last century.

I think Iran ’79 could be an example.

She mentions violence against children allowed for vestigial states to use; circumcision of boys and girls. FGM.

Tony Blair in Britain granting some power to some religions.

Sharia law not mentioned explicitly yet.

Labeling law as religious law makes people nervous. Many step away from debate.

Question: is Queen being head of state and Church of England an example of state using religion?

Yes, push me, pull me.

I ask a question if CFL and Disney are proto-states in their corporatehood. Many people describe the Riders as their religion. She says there is regulated male violence in it.
She needs to contemplate it more.
- Geno is an MLA. Szarka was on City Council. (Military day at last Rider game. Ticket featured soldiers in Afghanistan holding Rider flag. Hawks flew over stadium to launch the game.)

Shea M. brings up Quebec values charter maybe coming out of Conservative “nation in a nation” strategy of a few years ago.

Constitution question, I missed too much while writing and thinking.

A bloody foundational event. Freudian.

Italian constitution based on a right to work.

Cliff’s question she disagrees with. God granted laws? “Just think about law. ” It’s all government, there are no religious laws.

image

-Question: brings to mind women trapped in sanctuary in Regina church. Protected from state power, for now.

She answers: Churches have power. They can sometimes counter government. This is probably a good thing to not have power concentrated in one source.

Something that didn’t come up were healing circles. I brought it up afterward, and she hasn’t looked into them a great deal. She’s suspicious they are permitted because they could serve as a means to let people who treat women violently, get off without state punishment. Assuming healing circles work to rehabilitate, that might not be as bad if the result is former criminals who no longer want to hurt people.

ADDED:
The discussion after included some mention of FGM, and comparison to male GM, both violent acts against children, but permitted by the state and religious groups. We brought up how there were researchers asking women in countries where FGM is practiced what they thought of breast augmentation, and the women were horrified by the idea. The reverse was true in American women surveyed.

Bus-Taker’s Guide To The Galaxy

I helped invent and host a city bus tour to a movie theatre from the Riddell Centre on Tuesday evening. It went very well, even though our bus was 20 minutes late when first leaving. The weather was astoundingly perfect, and the ten people who went all seemed to enjoy the evening very much. I think UR Sustainability Club will organize another tour like this one, later this semester.

Half of the group saw “Elysium” [7/10] a futuristic movie about a man dying to get to a satellite habitat where magical medical technology can heal nearly anything. The other went to the World’s End, or something like that. They seemed shocked by what they saw. The movie I saw was alright, but probably won’t watch it again.