Peter Mansbridge

Not outraged, overly surprised or angry – I’m disappointed, as in let down – the feeling you got as a kid when promises gave way to reality and circumstance. Wishing with all your heart explanation and apology made sense of crushing disappointment – wanting to trust the bearer of bad news because you loved and counted on them, yet knowing deep down  unconditional faith could be shaken. That moment when young perspective feel victim to harsh reality.

Peter Mansbridge is chief correspondent for CBC News, The National, a position of “news anchor” held since 1995; the longest running anchor in Canadian history, a household name for decades – the voice of Canada – an icon representing fair unbiased journalism, the epitome of a nation set apart by our conviction and principles. The face of CBC, an organization I’ve championed for honest reporting in our misinformed,  media circus world.

All grown up now and not so naïve as to think any news corporation actually escaped government, corporate or religious tentacles – news of Mansbridge accepting healthy pay checks to speak at oil and gas interest extravaganzas left me questioning my Canada.

CBC is a government funded “crown corporation”. Established in 1936 with radio, adding public television in 1952 – under direction of a president, appointed by Canada’s Governor General on “advice” of the Prime Minister – CBC (despite supplemental advertising money) is ultimately controlled by Federal dollars. Canadians have become so accustomed to cultural, artistic and no nonsense investigative reporting – we forget who signs the checks.

Getting back to Mansbridge – Canadian tongues are wagging over reports his presence is for sale as key note speaker to oil and gas interests. For a price, which he defends as “being entitled to activities in my private life”, Mansbridge head lined the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) at an Investment Symposium in 2012. Reports have him cashing a check from Cenovus at the Association of Canadian Oil Landmen in 2011. CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson stated Mansbridge is “encouraged” to speak, and all speaking engagements are cleared with CBC management.

Hmm – ponder that a moment; correct me if I’m wrong – management (our government) encourages Mansbridge – arguably one of the most recognizable Canadians, to accept money for speaking in the interest of  energy shenanigans. The same government hell bent on rolling out the red carpet to foreign investment, environmental white washing and “end justifies the means” tactics.

Far from being in any position other than gut reaction – this is one disillusioned Canadian with less than fuzzy feelings towards my formerly sacred CBC.

CBC news anchor Peter Mansbridge poses for a photo at Toronto studios as the television network announces its 2013-14 season preview on Wednesday May 22, 2013.

Olympic Power


Fresh off  closing ceremonies at Sochi, still smiling from the exhilaration of Canadian men and women’s hockey taking gold, I find myself pondering another Olympic moment.

The courage of Tommie Smith and John Carlos exemplifies the civil rights movement. I’m not going to explain why – take 5 minutes out of your life to watch a snapshot in time, a moment in history when  Olympics’ sacred line was crossed, when damn the consequences ruled over “tow the line”. Smith and Carlos managed to define injustice without uttering a word.

I often write of protest; specifically my dismay at society’s screwed up priorities – our spoon fed, cult of celebrity, gun toting, fundamentalist, reality television, someone else’s problem world. For those too young to understand the optimism, hope and determination of people who believed they could make a difference, I wish I could roll back time. When coffee shops and campuses burst under the weight of collective purpose rather than suffocating taps of MacBook keyboards in an otherwise silent Starbucks.

This ponder isn’t about “world peace”, I’m talking about our back yards and dark alleys. Poverty, education, injustice taking place in front of our eyes – corporate greed, “stand your ground” nonsense, environmental atrocities, civil rights violations – reduced to a Tweet or cooked into poppycock by Fox News wingnuts.

This Olympic moment reminds me of a time when purpose out weighed lucrative endorsements, a time when we believed change was a matter of determination, a time when seizing  Olympic glory for peaceful exclamation of injustice was not only thinkable, it was possible.

Canada vs. Sweden – Believe Again

Canadians are low key – hardly known for hand over heart bellows of our national anthem, flags flapping in our yards or verbalizations of national pride. We tend to keep to ourselves, quietly minding our own business and speaking politely. We’re used to coming in second, watching from the sidelines and doing our best. There is however one thing we do extremely well – Canada kicks hockey ass.

The Vancouver 2010 Olympics can only be described as exhilarating – not simply because it is my home town – I sensed Canadian pride for the first time in my life.  I witnessed a transformation; a shift in our perspective, a collective ripple of identity swelling to waves of confidence. Those games changed us – never have I felt prouder to be Canadian. Like the little engine that could, Canadian media asked us to “believe”. I believe became the anthem of those games –  Canada embraced “believe”, a concept culminating in the Canada vs. USA men’s hockey final.

At game time the city was deserted; not a car, not a sound, not a thought to anything other than “believing” we could do it. Thousands gathered downtown, eyes searching for screens as silent anticipation took hold. Despite a tied game headed for overtime – we still believed.

I’ll never forget the roar, the eruption of sound when Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal. Canada changed that day – we learned it was possible to “believe”.

In a few hours Canada faces Sweden in the gold medal hockey final. It doesn’t matter I have to work early in the morning – not to me, not to millions of Canadians who learned believing was possible. Canadians will politely set aside everything but their belief we can do it again.

Electromagnetic Disruption Defense

I owe this ponder to for kindly alerting me to the effect of solar activity on our brain. Decades spent living in a rain forest left little doubt as to earthly weather’s impact on mood – SAD (seasonal affective disorder) a recognized affliction during gloomy west coast winter has doctors recommending sun lamps along with anti-depressants. It hadn’t occurred to me space weather played a part in mood.

The Pineal Gland in our brain reacts to electromagnetic charges. Solar flares and resulting CME’s (coronal mass ejections) are bursts of magnetically charged plasma hurled into space at mind boggling speeds. Our magnetosphere protects us from radiation, most of us blissfully unaware of geomagnetic storms, disrupted radio waves or power fluctuations. Poor pineal gland can’t do the same – highly sensitive to electromagnetic energy, it goes into overdrive producing excess Melatonin. Melatonin is a natural sleep inducing substance, our “circadian rhythm” goes haywire and grumpy, irritated, moody, depressed or anxiety ridden people emerge.

My interest in space weather has led to more than a few rolled eyes and jokes about tin foil hats. I’m not bothered by snickers, more frustrated and annoyed at those who ignore the power of the cosmos. I’m waiting for those same people to use “electromagnetic disruption” as a defense for bad behaviour.

Trinity Western

Trinity Western University is a private institution located outside Vancouver in Langley, B.C. Operated under the umbrella of the Evangelical Free Church of Canada, Trinity Western resides in the “bible belt” otherwise known as the Fraser Valley. What began as a Christian College in 1962 has morphed into a fully accredited university – as of 1985, Trinity has been a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. With 157 acres of campus, residences for close to 1000 students, 42 under graduate and 16 graduate programs – Trinity enrolls over 3000 students a year.

Ponder one little catch – Trinity Western has no interest in gay students. Last year Trinity sought approval to open a law school. A requirement for all students and faculty is their signature on a promise to steer clear of  behaviour compromising  “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman” Same sex marriage legal in Canada, grounds for exclusion at Trinity.

A decade ago Trinity ran into problems when the B.C. College of Teachers refused to recognize Trinity teaching graduates. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled no evidence existed to prove Trinity teachers would discriminate – they said that in balancing religious and equality rights – “the proper place to draw the line is usually between belief and conduct”. Since no evidence of misconduct existed – Trinity could school anti-gay teachers.

Trinity Western has recently been granted approval to open a law school. Starting in 2015, 60 students will enter the program each year – a three year course promising at least 50 anti-gay lawyers setting up shop come 2019. By 2024 about 300, and so on, and so on.

The prospect leaves me gloomy – I don’t want a future full of close minded, rigid thinkers. I know Trinity graduates are a drop in the bucket – for every Trinity grad, thousands upon thousands of liberal thinkers exist. I also know Trinity isn’t unique – hundreds of institutions bent on religious bias churn righteous zealots out every year.

I’m not too happy with Canada at the moment. Canadians are supposed to call bullshit on injustice. Our federal government forbids employees to say “bless you” in the work place if someone sneezes (for fear it might offend non Christians) yet allows an accredited institution to discriminate against basic human rights.

Trinity Western University

Electric Elephant

My guess is the majority of people asked to name the “father” of electricity would answer Thomas Edison. Edison was a remarkable man; he held over 1000 patents, gave us phonographs, light bulbs, DC electric currents, and an electrocuted elephant.

Edison ruled the roost during early industrialised electrical power; his light bulb the best invention since steam engines. An astute visionary, he still struggled with technical bumps in his road. Enter Nicola Tesla, a Serbian immigrant to America in 1884.

Edison hired Tesla as a electrical engineer at Edison Machine Works. Tesla proved his value almost immediately;  basic work quickly abandoned by a request to redesign Edison’s DC generator. Tesla claimed he knew how to re-work designs for Edison motors and generators – Edison promised Tesla $50,000 if his redesign proved to be efficient and economical as promised. Tesla kept his end of the bargain, Edison laughed it off, saying Tesla didn’t understand he was joking, and lacked the ability to grasp American humour. Edison offered a raise of $10 a week  (Tesla was receiving $18 a week) – Tesla walked, the feud was on.

1886 saw Tesla form the Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing company – based on arc lighting systems patented by Tesla. He knocked heads with investors by insisting AC was the current of choice. Their lack of vision saw him fired, penniless and digging ditches until 1887 when Tesla Electric Company formed on the bank roll of more enlightened money. By 1888 he patented his AC induction motor. George Westinghouse caught wind, bought the design for $60,000, stocks perks and a $2.50 royalty for every AC horsepower each motor spat out. iced with a $2000 dollar a month salary to work at Westinghouse in Pittsburgh designing AC powered street cars. Ultimately Tesla failed to incorporate his AC vision to Pittsburgh street transportation and Edison’s direct current prevailed. Despite a minor street car victory, Edison read the writing on the wall.

Edison had a plan – a grand standing circus side show of a plan – he would demonstrate the danger and folly of Tesla’s current. He would put on a “show”, a campaign worthy of mention in the spin doctoring publicist marketing hall of fame. Edison decided public demonstrations of death by alternating current were the answer to waning interest in DC power applications.

Edison began tentatively – public electrocution of stray dogs and cats. A few cows and horses followed – each event built around an exuberant “this could happen to you” theme. On January 4, 1903, Edison staged his final “show” for 1,500 onlookers. Luna Park Zoo at Coney Island had an uppity elephant to dispatch – Edison sent “Topsy” to her grave – feeding her cyanide soaked carrots moments before death ( a little insurance on the deal) – the execution caught on film and contained in the link below. I haven’t the stomach to watch it myself.

Below are links from – first Edison, then Tesla.

Please Don’t Buy Me Flowers

I saw 16 men in line at Safeway today, each one held nothing but a bouquet of flowers. Clearly a frantic solution to the Valentines problem as they made their way home from work. Closer scrutiny revealed a few carried heart shaped cakes; a red aluminum pan with plastic teddy bear or heart decal pressed into industrial icing. These men were hedging their bets, covering all perceived bases just to be sure their partners wouldn’t sulk for the rest of the night.

It isn’t my intention to make anyone feel bad or judge parameters of other peoples relationships; all I can do is speak for myself when I say “please don’t buy me flowers”. I don’t want anything for Valentine’s Day. I would feel dreadful if my husband were one of those men in the Safeway line. In fact, it would leave me feeling hollow if “love” ever disintegrated to the point of obligation on one pre-determined day every year.

I’m not being cynical or critical – simply admitting my astonishment at a marketing bonanza. Forgive my lack of enthusiasm for this prescribed day of love. I can’t help being who I am, I can’t shake this feeling of sympathy for those men scrambling to fulfill perceived obligations.

My husband will come home from work on a random Tuesday with flowers – no reason at all. Not because we bickered the night before, not because it’s my birthday or our anniversary – simply because. After almost 32 years of marriage it still blows me away. Unexpected, heartfelt; flowers that mean something rather than flowers society pressured him to buy on February 14. Those flowers say “I love you” – Valentine’s flowers say “I had to – hope you’re happy”.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

You don't have to be a gourmet chef to put together a delicious Valentine's Day dinner.