New Rule: The Slow-Moving Coup | Real Time with Bill Maher

(Via Cynical C)

opinion Politics

Prime Minister Kim Campbell on Trump

At the ATA Summer Conference, I was fortunate to see former Prime Minister Kim Campbell speak on leadership. During the question and answer period, someone asked her to comment a little further on how she sees the political situation in the United States unfolding. [Does she] see Trump finishing his tenure or [does she] see this coming to an abrupt, sudden end? She responded:

(YouTube link)

I recommend following her on Twitter.


Social Website Bloggers

When I was down in San Fransisco a couple of years ago, I dropped into one of the first meetings of the Social Media Club.

While chatting with a group of strangers about social media, I mentioned how Stumble Upon had recently added a video section. One of the ladies was really enthralled and wanted to know just what you had to do to get her politically motivated video featured there.

My “clueless Internet marketing guru” radar was going off and I had to explain to her that videos don’t get put on there by work or money, they get put on there because Stumble Upon has an algorithm that calculates whether or not this video is something I’d like to see.

I explained that if you want your video to show up for me it would have to be something that is interesting enough for people with like-minded interests as me to give it a thumbs-up click. It’s an organic process that can’t be forced unless you are able to create a compelling video. I’m not sure I got through to her, and this saddens me, because I feel like I know tons more about how social media actually works and yet I see many of these self marketed Internet gurus that seem to know next to nothing.

My first thought when I heard that the University of Lethbridge has decided to jump on the social media marketing bandwagon is that hey, I’d be great at that job.

From the job listing as found on the U of L Notice Board:

Social Website Bloggers
5-10 hours per week starting in May
The successful candidates should be passionate about the UofL and eager to share their experiences, opinions and observations. They will maintain and update electronic social networking sites including, but not limited to, blogs, Twitter and Facebook. They will be expected, on a regular basis, to constructively comment on many of the happenings and experiences within the UofL and the City of Lethbridge.

My next thought when I read, “constructively comment” was that this is a bad idea. I wonder how tight the reins will be held on the winning applicant. In my mind, there’s really only a couple of ways this can turn out.

On the one hand, a paid blogger extolling the virtues of the perfect world existing at the U of L is going to come off as contrived, institutional in flavour, and won’t express the kind of unique ideas that will get the kind of attention the University is looking for in the first place. They might as well just save their money and keep pushing the kind of media they already publish.

On the other hand, if the new U of L blogger is free to present ideas about how they see the University run, unfavourable opinions may germinate and it could turn out to be a PR nightmare.

I still wish they had something like that when I went there because it sounds like a fun job. But if I were the person in charge of this position I would keep in mind this post from Matt Haughey, This is how Social Media really works. It’s not about paying someone to get on twitter, facebook, and blogger, it’s about putting together a quality product (in this case higher education) and letting the social network do its own thing.

And for the record, it’s U of L not UofL — that’s a total pet peeve of mine.


Thinking the Unthinkable

Clay Shirky on the demise of print journalism and thinking about what might replace it: Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable. Don’t let the fact that it’s long turn you off; it’s a brilliant essay on adapting to the digital revolution.

When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.

There are fewer and fewer people who can convincingly tell such a lie.

(Via Waxy)

opinion Sport

Reinventing Invention

Last month the New Yorker held it’s annual conference: Stories from the Near Future. They’ve setup a videocast for the talks. Below is the video of Malcolm Gladwell speaking about innovation, genius, and the mismatch problem in his talk, Reinventing Invention.

See Reinventing Invention in pristine MP4 format.

documentary opinion religion Science

The Big Picture Debate on Dawkins’ “Root of all Evil”

Avi Lewis - The Big Picture

I’ve talked about Richard Dawkins’ documentary The Root of all Evil before, but something I came across the other day which I found very interesting is The Big Picture: Debate on Dawkins’ Root of all Evil.

(Coincidentally my friend Shannon Phillips is one of the producers on Avi’s other show, On The Map.)

opinion war

My SAT Blogger Challenge Results

About a month ago I entered the SAT Blogger Challenge, an experiment to see how regular “bloggers” like myself compare to high school students in the United States with regard to essay writing ability.
I got a 4.

My Writing Faced the Challenge 4

The challenge:

Directions: Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.
‘I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.’
– Booker T. Washington

Assignment: What is your opinion on the idea that struggle is a more important measure of success than accomplishment? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

Without further ado, here is my essay spelling mistakes and all.

Success as measured by struggle rather than in accomplishment conveys the romantic notion that it doesn’t matter how well you do, so long as you try.

If success could be defined as merely the amount of effort one applied to any given problem then it would be fair to say that both the Russians and the Americans were ’successful’ in the race for the moon, but it was the United States that landed there first. Continuing with that line of thinking, if struggle is all that matters, then the current war in Iraq has been very successful for the United States – from start to present. It looks like they are headed for a lot of success in the future too.

It is important to remember that the struggle to accomplish a given goal is a very important part of success, however, I believe, that it’s disingenuous to pretend that success can be defined merely by how hard one attempts to complete their goal.

Success is synonomous with accomplishment while struggle only relates to success in that often a successful endevour was possible due to conviction, deadication, and hard work. So, while the importance of struggle should not be ignored, a success can only accurately measured in terms of accomplishment. The bright math student who correctly completes his homework with very little effort is much more successful than the struggling student who slaves over his work and yet despite his effort does a horrible job.

Success must be defined as the accomplishment. The struggle is merely what helps one complete that accomplishment.

See Dave Munger’s analysis on the challenge.


The Eternal Value of Privacy

Great opinion piece by WiredNews writer Bruce Schneier on the value of privacy.

How many of us have paused during conversation in the past four-and-a-half years, suddenly aware that we might be eavesdropped on? Probably it was a phone conversation, although maybe it was an e-mail or instant-message exchange or a conversation in a public place. Maybe the topic was terrorism, or politics, or Islam. We stop suddenly, momentarily afraid that our words might be taken out of context, then we laugh at our paranoia and go on. But our demeanor has changed, and our words are subtly altered.

opinion Politics

Bush Best President Since Clinton

This month’s Rolling Stone magazine reports on the United States’ worst president ever:

According to the Treasury Department, the forty-two presidents who held office between 1789 and 2000 borrowed a combined total of $1.01 trillion from foreign governments and financial institutions. But between 2001 and 2005 alone, the Bush White House borrowed $1.05 trillion, more than all of the previous presidencies combined. Having inherited the largest federal surplus in American history in 2001, he has turned it into the largest deficit ever—with an even higher deficit, $423 billion, forecast for fiscal year 2006. Yet Bush—sounding much like Herbert Hoover in 1930 predicting that “prosperity is just around the corner”—insists that he will cut federal deficits in half by 2009, and that the best way to guarantee this would be to make permanent his tax cuts, which helped cause the deficit in the first place!

Last weekend I went to Drayton Valley to celebrate Easter with my sister and her family. I car-pooled with my parents for the 6 hour drive and had a chance to talk about the American national debt problem with my dad. (It’s one of our favourite recurring topics of discussion).

I wondered what will happen to the highly dependant Canadian economy if/when the American dollar/economy collapses. Carrying the tremendous weight of almost $8.4 trillion, it seems to me only a matter of time before somebody (maybe China?) comes asking for their money back. And if it’s not the other countries that have money invested, maybe it will be a large portion of the population that come to the realization that, “hey the government can’t actually back up those bonds for my lifesavings — maybe I should try and get it now before it’s too late!”

It’s obvious that such a scenario would be catastrophic for the States, but I was curious how it would affect “The Great White North”. I’m guessing the biggest impact on the Canadian economy (other than lost money invested in the States) will be the inability to sell our products to the massive consumer giant to the south. In turn, massive layoffs; then an economic depression. Simply saying it’s going to be ugly really doesn’t approach the magnitude of hardships we’re going to be up against.

Attempting to save the world, one dictator at a time aside, the economic decisions of the United States affect everyone, and it’s something that is cause for grave concern. Luckily, China and the US are on such great terms. Oh, wait… never mind.

(Rolling Stone link via Waxy)


The Meliorist Article Update

As I mentioned in a previous post the old resident of my house has been the target of the editor at the school newspaper. Recently someone by the name of April M. wrote to the paper in his defence:

“Moving on, I was most angry at the writer’s slander of Stu Crawford. This is unprofessional for anyone to do, but for the letter to the editor to purport this behavior condemns The Meliorist to be a second grade student newspaper. I’m not painting the whole staff with the same brush, but the editor’s actions are unacceptable.”

It’s always been a second rate newspaper, but I’m thinking it’s worse than that now. Maybe third rate?

Update: Stu’s in a university paper again – this time at UVic, for eating the campus rabbits.