Sunday, September 30, 2007

YouTube Group: Calgary Municipal Election 2007

I’ve created a group on YouTube for collecting videos from candidates in the Calgary municipal election.

If you know of any candidates with videos not in the group, please ask them to add their videos — or add them yourself. Thanks.

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Brian Pincott for Calgary Ward 11

I interviewed Brian Pincott last week. He’s running for city council (“alderman”) in Calgary Ward 11. Here’s the video of the interview:

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Friday, September 28, 2007

My new website for the Calgary municipal election

I finally launched a new website I’ve been planning for quite a while. It provides a comprehensive listing of all the candidates in the upcoming municipal election (including the school boards), including all the links to them I could find (websites, social networking sites, online videos) and contact information (phone numbers, email addresses, campaign offices).There’s a page for general voter resources, like maps of the wards and information on how to vote, as well as links to advocacy websites and social networking groups for the election and election issues.

Finally, I have also included a page dedicated to sharing my opinions of the campaign issues, and my views on the candidates.

Future developments

There are many ideas I have for a general website to track elections, candidates and elected officials. Maybe I’ll eventually get around to implementing some of them.

I’d love to have a way for each candidate to have a page where people can share their thoughts on the candidate. Although, there would have to be some mechanism to avoid it falling into the typical name-calling and mud-slinging. I haven’t figured out how best to approach solving that problem, but I do have some ideas and am thinking further about it.

It would also be good to be able to compile links to news stories, blog posts, message board discussions, etc., and to link those to the relevant candidates.

Eventually, a record of elected officials actions while in office would be useful, too. Especially their policy and voting histories.

Anyone interested in working with me on this project? Additional Ruby on Rails developers would be especially useful, although there are a lot of other ways to contribute, too.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Video interview with Lindsay Luhnau

On Friday, I interviewed Lindsay Luhnau who is running for Calgary city council in Ward 8. It took me a few days to fit in the video editing time, so I didn’t get it posted until yesterday. Here’s the video:

(I interviewed Brian Pincott this afternoon — he’s running in Ward 11. I hope to have that video up in the next couple of days. Hopefully.)
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Elections and misreadings

I have been getting complaints for my membership in a group on Facebook that is opposing the campaign of Alnoor Kassam for mayor. Frustratingly, some of the things said by other members there are being taken as if I had said them (the particularly harshly-worded, and therefore attention getting statements). This is apparently being used to try to discredit some of the other campaigns I’m working on.

It is particularly frustrating since I have long sided with Miss Manners that there is no need for rudeness, including name-calling — even in politics.

To be clear, here is what I have said and am still saying:

I am opposing Alnoor Kassam’s campaign because of his having forced tenants out of their homes through rent increases. After it became a public issue, he turned around and tried to apply measures to mitigate the harms. But his initial action shows to me a strong lack of concern for the well-being of his tenants and make clear that he is not bringing an appropriate perspective to addressing the housing crisis in our city.

I have also pointed to an article in the Herald which links him to a banking scandal in Kenya. Having insufficient information on that matter, I cannot pass judgement. But, it is worth reading the article and being aware of the questions around the candidate’s past.

The exact quotes of my words:

The single post I had made to the Facebook group prior to this becoming an issue:
The Calgary Herald has an article today, “Challenger takes on Bronconnier dollar for dollar in this campaign”. It talks about the massive amount of money Kassam is spending on the campaign, as well as covering some of his questionable past (including involvement in a major banking scandal in Kenya and massive rent increases he imposed on tenants).
The text I posted to the Wikipedia article on the election, along with a reference link citing the Calgary Herald article:
Alnoor Kassam (mayoral candidate) was connected to a banking scandal in Kenya, including admitted acts of bribery, prior to moving to Canada. He has denied some of the accusations, and claimed others to be part of the political culture of that nation. Kassam has received negative attention for increasing rents significantly (more than tripling in some cases) in an apartment building he owns in the Mount Royal community.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Election Workshop videos in one playlist

I’ve compiled the various videos from the election workshop into one playlist on YouTube for (hopefully) easier access. I’ve also added another video to the set (part 6, featuring sitting city councillor Druh Farrell). Only a few more to go.

These are from a workshop on municipal elections that the Arusha Centre hosted back in 2004.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Pam Krause in Municipal Election Workshop video (part 3-5)

Back in 2004, Arusha hosted a workshop on municipal elections in Calgary.

In parts 3-5, Pam Krause talks about some of the things she has learned about campaigning over the years. She has worked as on election campaigns at all levels of government — from the school board to the federal government.

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Calgarians are needed to stop incumbent city councillors from running uncontested

Incumbents set to be acclaimed — candidates needed

Calgary municipal election nomination day is this Monday, September 17.

There are two sitting city councillors (still calling themselves by the gendered “Alderman” title) who do not have anyone running against them. They are Andre Chabot in Ward 10 and Rick McIver in Ward 12.

If you would be willing to run against them to prevent their acclamation, we’ve got people willing to try to help you get the 100 signatures and may be able to help with the $100 deposit over this weekend.

You do NOT have to live in the ward. You just need to be an adult Canadian citizen resident in Calgary to run. You don’t even have to commit to running much of a campaign — at this point, we’re just hoping to at least prevent these two incumbents from coasting to an effortless victory.

If you are interested in running, please pick up nomination forms from the election office (1103 - 55 Avenue NE; phone 221-3888) on Friday. If you are interested, but can’t get the forms, please contact us at the email/number below and we’ll try to get the forms for you.

Nomination Signatures Needed

It will be challenging to get enough signatures before Monday. If you live (have your home) in Wards 10 or 12, and would be willing to sign a nomination form before Monday morning, please contact us.

Contact us

Learn More About Being A Candidate:

There are videos up from a workshop the Arusha Centre hosted, featuring a presentation by the city’s election coordinator. These can help clarify what it means to be a candidate.
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More of the Municipal Election Workshop video (part 2)

Back in 2004, Arusha hosted a workshop on municipal elections in Calgary.

This is the second part, where Barb Clifford, Returning Officer for the City of Calgary, answers questions from the audience about the municipal election process in Calgary for candidates and voters.

Because of length limits on YouTube, Part 2 is split into two parts:
Part 2.1:

Part 2.2:

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Municipal Election Workshop video

Back in 2004, Arusha hosted a workshop on municipal elections in Calgary.

I’m processing the video I have from the event and posting it on YouTube.

Here’s the first part, where Barb Clifford, Returning Officer for the City of Calgary, discusses the municipal election process in Calgary for candidates and voters.

Update: Part 2 is now available.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

The Ten Commandments aren’t Christian law

A long time bug up my butt is self-proclaimed “Christians” touting Jewish law — especially the “Ten Commandments” (Exodus 20).

Let me be clear, I am not a “man of faith”. I am not a member of, or believer in, any religion (except maybe Star Wars and Lego). I think religion is a bad idea. That said, I do have a Christian background (although I was not raised “in the church”) and have long been fascinated by the stories and theology.

Anyway, we’re frequently hearing about ‘Christians’ trying to force the Ten Commandments on everybody. But they apparently haven’t actually paid attention to their own theology. The Jewish text is called the “Old Testament” for a reason. In Christian theological terms, it describes the way things used to be before the whole crucifiction(sic) deal. Christian theology says that Jesus created a “New Testament”. If you actually read “The Gospels” (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), you’ll find the two (not 10) Christian commandments:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
—Matthew 22:37-40, King James Version
The second is actually so important that it gets restated later in John:
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
—John 15:12, KJV
So, unless they want to adhere to Jewish laws of the Old Testament, Christians who tout the Ten Commandments are failing to stick to their own theology.

Particularly hypocritical are those who selectively tout Old Testament rules that serve their agendas, while ignoring many of the rules that they don’t care to bother about. They’ll haul out homophobic crap like Leviticus 18:22, but conveniently ignore parts like Leviticus 11:7-8 because they happen to enjoy eating bacon.

Now, I happen to like the second Christian commandment. Love everyone — act from love — is really a pretty good principle to live by. I just wish those blustering ‘Christians’, like Emperor Bush, would follow the actual christian commandments…

Deriving the ten from the two

You can actually derive — in general — the intent of most of the Jewish commandments from the christian commandments.

The first chunk of the ten focus on being devoted to ‘God’, not putting ‘Him’ down, and all that. Those kind of go along with the christian commandment to “Love the Lord thy God…” (although certainly not an exact mapping).

The other, non-God-focused, commandments mostly follow if you are sticking to the second christian commandment. For example, if you love your parents, you will “Honour thy father and thy mother”. “Thou shalt not kill” generally makes sense as it’s usually not a loving thing to kill someone (although there may be exceptions such as “mercy killing” or assisted suicide which could potentially be loving acts).

“Though shalt not commit adultery.” Well, adultery typically harms someone — or multiple people — such as whomever is being cheated on. Those being harmed aren’t being treated with love, so that’s definitely a christian no-no. (In this context, I wouldn’t classify fully consensual multi-partner relationships as being adulterous.)

All that said, “Thou shalt not kill” and it’s compatriots are not christian laws. They can be useful in helping us analyse and, hopefully, understand the christian laws. But, they are just points on “the map”. “The place” is the two actual christian laws (of which, I only personally care about the second since I don’t believe in any “God” or “Gods”).

The map is not the place

A core problem I see with much Christian analysis is the classic human problem of “the map is not the place”.

Throughout the Gospels, whenever the character of Jesus tells people something (usually in the form of a “parable”) they are always confused and he has to go into explanations — shifting from principles to examples.

In my reading, I see the whole of the Gospels as being the same pattern. Jesus tells folks his core message, “Love one another”, but they are confused and don’t understand what he means. So, he elaborates, providing examples to illustrate what acting from love can mean.

The problem comes when people start to take the examples as the law. We end up with things like the “good Samaritan law” — which isn’t really christian law. It’s just an illustration, a map. The Gospels aren’t saying you have to help injured people on the side of the road. They are showing an example of what acting from love might look like.

The map is not the place. The example is not the law.

Christianity’s misstep

Those who’ve studied the historical context from which the Christian texts emerged, or who have read works like The Pagan Christ by Tom Harpur, will be familiar with the reality that the content of “The Bible” mostly reworked from earlier religions (perhaps most notably, the Egyptian Osiris myths which feature the 3-day resurrection the Jesus crucifixion story is based on). There are a few extras tacked-on to keep people (especially women and slaves) in line, such as enforcing hair lengths based on sex, but the text is largely cribbed.

The thing that particularly stands out about the Christian approach to these mythologies was their imagining that the stories were somehow historical reality rather than just illustrations of ideas. The texts of Christianity were not seen as fantastical works to help us explore understanding our existence, but rather as the literal truth in our physical reality on Earth.

While the content of the text was all derivative or outright plagiarized, this extremely problematic thinking was the thing that truly set the Christian religions apart from their predecessors.

The tragic mistake of Christianity is that they took a map, and saw it as being the place.

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Why I didn’t buy any apples tonight

[Photo of apples] This evening, I walked to my local Calgary Co-op grocery store for some groceries.

I usually try to pick up most of my produce from Sunnyside Market — a small, locally-owned, grocer that focuses on environmentally responsible and healthy food choices (and they accept Calgary Dollars for part of any purchase). However, that didn’t work for me today, so I went to Co-op (who are open longer hours).

As it was, of the various things I was looking for, most came from other parts of the planet. I was particularly disappointed by the selection of apples. Nearly every variety came from literally the other side of the planet (New Zealand). There was only one variety I could find that was from this continent — and that came from the U.S. which I am avoiding as much as possible.

So, no apples.

It’s ironic (as is so much of what goes on in the world) that Co-op touts being “Locally owned and operated” while apparently avoiding local growers. I did take the opportunity to fill out one of their customer feedback forms to encourage them to try for local sources instead.

Photo by Annette Elisabeth Rudolph. Licensed under the Creative Commons.
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Friday, September 7, 2007

Racism continues

I strongly encourage you to read Lower Manhattanite’s posting about racism in the U.S., “Do you understand where you are?”

It addresses the current story of the Jena Six, as well as L.M.’s family’s experiences with overt, explicitly violent, racism in the 90’s.

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Issues with Facebook

There are numerous issues with Facebook. From privacy concerns, centralized control of data, lack of user control of our own info, the annoyances of app invites, rumours of CIA involvement, etc.

I just came across a few postings going into detail on some interesting concerns:These are good contributions to trying to understand why Facebook falls short of being a good approach to “social networking”.

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