Have fun when you can. Think all the time.

Music, Trees, Environment, BBC, Hardwood floors, Storytelling, Adventures, International development, Learning new things, Getting new perspectives, Writing essays, Water, Road trips, Photography, Spaghetti squash, Art, Books, Getting involved, Gingerbread lattes,(Not)Sleeping, Reading, Poetry, Falling leaves, Aging, Monologues, Prickly pear tea, Making lists, Politics, New ideas, Exploring, Traveling, Dinosaurs, Killer whales, Sushi, Pop Culture, Meeting new people, Barbequing with friends, Tubing down the river, Waking up early, Discovering new things, Trees, Empathy, Believing in the Power of Love

July 20, 2010

Home Sweet...... Honduras?

I guess I will be calling Honduras home for a couple months starting this fall. I got accepted for an internship through the AUCC (an affiliate of CIDA) and the University of Manitoba that will start this fall (mid-September)until Late January. In theory I will be doing research seeking to examine the effects on quality of life by membership in agricultural cooperatives in a developing counties and the relationship that exists as a result. At the same time the research will look at the relationship existing between internally determined/initiated programming and individual quality of life. I will [hopefully] be living with an employee of the non-governmental organization I will be working with, and work on my Spanish skills.

I'm nervous. scared. excited. But I can't say I didn't see this coming...an opportunity like this has been within my line of sight for a while now and I guess I have finally locked in on it.

Here's to new adventures and making things happen!

Cat Power: Lived In Bars

we've lived in bars
and danced on the tables
hotels trains and ships that sail
we swim with sharks
and fly with aeroplanes in the air

send in the trumpets
the marching wheelchairs
open the blankets and give them some air
swords and arches bones and cement
the lights and the dark of the innocent of men

we know your house so very well
and we will wake you once we've walked up
all your stairs

there's nothing like living in a bottle
and nothing like ending it all for the world
we're so glad you will come back
every living lion will lay in your lap
the kid has a homecoming the champion the horse
who's gonna play drums guitar or organ with chorus
as far as we've walked from both of ends of the sand
never have we caught a glimpse of this man

we know your house so very well
and we will bust down your door if you're not there

we've lived in bars
and danced on tables
hotels trains and ships that sail
we swim with sharks
and fly with aeroplanes out of here
out of here

Democracy: Not the Way Aristotle Imagined It

A robust democracy can only be achieved if there is accountability and if there is a strong civil society. It is every citizen’s duty to participate in decision-making. When citizens are disinterested and do not perform their duty the legitimacy of democracy in place can be questioned. Since Mr. Harper came to power, almost four years ago, his party has failed to question his decisions, rather remaining silent in order to guarantee their longevity with the party. The Canadian electorate has followed suit with an increasing apathy towards the political process. Diminishing levels of accountability within government coupled with the centralization of power has led to a civil society that is disinterested and disconnected to the political system. A loss of trust in the political system has led to a breakdown in the functionality of the political process and taken democracy far away from the ideal type of democracy that Aristotle once imagined.

As an attempt to bolster their civil societies contribution to the political process and increase voter turn out Australia has implemented compulsory voting. If an eligible voter chooses not to vote in an election they are fined. They are not being forced to vote for a (specific) political party, and the option to spoil ballot is offered. Critics of implementing compulsory voting argue that voting is a civil right rather than a civil duty, and although they have the opportunity to express their civil rights they should not be compelled to, and forcing them to do so is an infringement of their basic freedoms. Another criticism is that low voter participation in voluntary elections is not necessarily an expression of dissatisfaction or apathy but rather approval of the system—however I would speculate that in the case of contemporary Canadian politics this is not the case. Supporters for compulsory voting argue that it would guarantee that the government represents the majority of the entire population and not just those who vote as well as preventing external interferences on the voting process. Spoiling your ballot is still a viable option for voters, and is preferred over not voting because it illustrates that there was no intimidation or coercion taking place.

The positive impact compulsory voting will have on Canada is undeniable allowing politicians to focus on issues and force them away from the current preferred strategy of remaining aloof in order to secure the most votes. Current voter turn out in Canada is at an all time low and continuing to allow this decline is irresponsible and unacceptable. Steven Fletcher has proposed a bill to increase the amount of advanced polling stations for the next election, but the root issue is that Canadian’s simply don’t care. No amount of advanced polling stations are going to entice then to express their civil right to vote, because the desire simply is not there. In order to actively alter the increasing decline of electorate participation the root issues need to be addressed. By implementing compulsory voting in Canada, we could expect to see a substantial increase in voter turn out for our next election. Fining those who do not vote and taking the revenue generated from the fines to educate the public—through public forums, unbiased public service announcements and introducing information on Canada’s electoral system and political parties platforms to the educational curriculum for high school students—in order to promote responsible voting.

By implementing this for the upcoming 2010 election we can expect to see a tremendous increase in voter turn out that will only increase over time with the introduction of the educational element. Once voter turn out has increased to satisfactory levels and the electorate has reengaged with the political process and a robust and dynamic democracy has been restored there would be potential to remove the compulsory voting fines if there was no extreme threat of dramatically decreasing voter turn out and if engaging in the political process became a societal norm within the country.

July 6, 2010

Wanderlust: a strong desire for or impulse to wander,[1] or, in modern usage, to travel and to explore the world.[2]

I have a serious case of wanderlust. There is not a corner of the world that I do not desire to see. India, Bangladesh, Laos, Cambodia, Malawi, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sierra Leon, Ghana, Mongolia, Nepal, Thailand, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Chile, Northern Canada, Halifax, Montreal, Costa Rica, Italy...I want to see it all :)