Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Billy Bragg and Brexit

March Update from BBC Europe editor Katya Adler
...And if you are hoping for that infamous "EU blink" before then, I will leave you with the thoughts of a well-placed Brussels official:
"Things would be different, if Theresa May had one, clear objective in these last-minute negotiations. A clear concession - that we could grant at a push - that would turn things around definitively in Westminster."
"But we look at the UK and everyone seems to be fighting everyone - about the backstop or whether Brexit should happen at all; over Norway or no deal and whether Theresa May should stay or go. There are splits in the prime minister's cabinet; we even see UK civil servants disagreeing amongst themselves now."
"These are UK domestic problems, yet the prime minister looks to us (the EU) to sort it out. We can't. We simply can't."

"Down the long months, all the British criticisms of Mrs. May have all been from people who think she should take her eye off the ball—but unlike them, she never does." 
Sean Crawford, March 20, 2019

Hello Reader,
Got the foggiest idea on Brexit?
Me neither.
Except in private, 
where I may loudly pound the table and beak off playing “Monday morning quarterback,” 
but not here, not on my public blog.

I wasn’t going to touch the subject of Brexit, but last night I found a delightful Youtube Brexit song by a singer for the working man, Britain’s Billy Bragg. Then the stupid comments got to me. With their belief in polarized politics, they apply to us stupid North Americans too. I’ll get back to Billy.

But first, the Queen, in her recent speech:
Of course, every generation faces fresh challenges and opportunities. As we look for new answers in the modern age, I for one prefer the tried and tested recipes, like speaking well of each other and respecting different points of view; coming together to seek out the common ground; and never losing sight of the bigger picture. To me, these approaches are timeless, and I commend them to everyone.

She didn’t mention Brexit by name, but…

The Washington Post’s comment on her speech:
So, to the squabblers of Westminster, the heckling press, the brayers who have been banging on about Bexit for the last three years? Consider yourselves commended to.

In the beginning:
What started as the European Common Market, for free trade, morphed into the European Union (EU) where folks were expected to eventually give up their sovereignty, including their currency, to become a United States of Europe. 

It was Britain’s first ever female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who warned that democracy required an exchange of speech, (citizen to citizen and citizen to governors) and since exchange of views, “power to the people,” is difficult in a continent-sized union of many languages, the eventual result must be a centralization of power. Today, a common phrase is “bureaucrats in Brussels.” Another phrase is “euroskeptics” It was skepticism that caused the British people to vote in a 2016 referendum for Britain to exit the EU, “Brexit,” to happen March 29, 2019.

It is Britain’s second ever female prime minister, Theresa May who, by the way, had personally voted against Brexit, who is now tasked with leading the UK out of the EU. The male PM who held the referendum, and other males, have done the “rats on a sinking ship” thing. Now it’s up to Mrs. May. Her problem? Human nature in parliament.

Incidentally, one of the characteristics of ethical journalists, in contrast to social media, is understanding that ordinary people may not be caught up on the news, so here are some links: 
BBC simple guide
BBC all you need to know
BBC definition of terms

Speaking definitions, long before “political correctness,” or PC, (Which I bet you can’t define either, right?) it was the writer of the first ever English dictionary, Samual Johnson, who said that although he was not a carpenter, he could judge whether a table was well made. Right now, with parliament stuck in Brexit “gridlock” the common person-in-the-street is judging their members of parliament: (MPs) “They are acting like children!” The phrase “temper tantrum” is used. People are saying, “Just get it done!”

Before some social justice warrior tells me it’s not “PC” for commoners to judge the wise, responsible members of parliament, well, I can judge children. I can examine whether learned MP’s are acting at a child level. That’s my focus today. Human nature.

In my January essay Assimilation I mentioned the referendum for Scottish separatism. As for Quebec separatism, as I only learned a week after their referendum, the Quebec results may have been influenced, skewed, by a Quebec businessman beaking off: “We must crush separatism!” and then voters who heard this “being contrary.” For Britain, I dread to imagine the influence of contrarian people coming to believe referendums don’t count, because “we can always have another one.” 

So to me, PM Theresa May was quite right to say the British can’t have another referendum on Brexit, not once the people have spoken. Lest it set a precedent. But that’s just what some MPs want, as well as wanting other half-baked plans such as have a “people’s committee” or a half-in half out compromise. May is right, the children are wrong… even if they are trying to break gridlock.

In business, there is a proper time for being open minded, creative and brainstorming, and that time is at the beginning of a project, not near the end. As you approach the finish line you must be focused. Call it “business 101,” or “street smart common sense,” but this is not what parliament is doing. Instead, the MPs are loudly espousing all sorts of ideas, in all directions, but they have nothing approaching consensus. Like crybabies: Or as the headstrong kids say at summer camp, “Too many chiefs, not enough Indians.”  Over on continental Europe folks are frustrated saying, “We can’t act if the British don’t even know what they want!”

In the adult world, you will send your trusted best negotiators, and then you must live with the results. Monday morning quarterbacking is only for sports. At the very most, a union leader might come back and say here is the deal: Strike or no-strike? He wouldn’t expect his people to then micro-manage, going over the entire contract under a microscope.

The “trusted best” negotiator for the British would be their Prime Minister. So Theresa May spent a longggg time on the deal with the EU, only to return to Britain to find parliament riding away in all directions. As more than one adult observer has said, “The British (parliament) only know what they don’t want, but they can’t agree on what they want.”

Or worse: “The people have voted to go, but many in parliament are secretly trying to remain.” A nasty thing to say, yes, but I’m afraid not all MPs have the integrity of Mrs May. Too bad that when this is all over, she will probably be too tired out to serve any longer.

I am reminded of poor, tired Abraham Lincoln during the civil war. As you know, he had a long string of defeated generals that he had to keep replacing. After one such General Disaster was failing to win, a fellow in the White House, having a silly tantrum, told Lincoln, “You must replace him! Put someone else in charge!”
Lincoln calmly said, “Who?” 
I wonder if Lincoln then smiled with his famous Lincoln humour: “Well, anybody might do for you, but I must have somebody.”

Back in university psychology class, we took the thought-experiment of a donkey in the middle, between two bales of hay an equal distance away (think of the US voters polarized between democrats and republicans) For Brexit, with parliament in all directions, think of four bales of hay, or better yet eight, set out at compass points. Students were asked: “Does the donkey starve to death trying to decide?” 

A clue: In one of my student clubs, one evening in a bare room, we did an exercise for fun: We walked around, at random, with the goal of seeking a leader, and eventually we ended up all stopped around one fellow, embarrassed and humble, whom we agreed was the most “credible leaderly one” of us all.  Back to the donkey: Students were told the donkey would move around a bit, find itself closer to one of the bales, and then go over to start munching. No gridlock.

If MPs can’t bring themselves to mill around and gravitate to a half-credible solution it’s because each bale of hay is glued to the floor with a BIG EGO “Pick me! Only me! My way or the highway!” Poor May. No wonder the commoners see parliament as a bunch of egocentric children.  

In fairness, while a student leader may be “embarrassed and humble” …maybe the pressures of legislating good laws means MPs have to compensate by having over-sized egos, maybe.

Oh, and don’t get me started on their childish fantasies:

“The deal could easily have been better…” May was their best, and took a long time.

“The EU could happily re-negotiate and brainstorm, back at square one…” the EU said they wouldn’t.

“The EU could scrap the Irish “backstop”…” The EU said they wouldn’t, and Ireland is a valued EU member.

“Brexit could be postponed, “more time,” negotiations extended…” But postponing would require unanimous EU consent, from every single country, including Ireland. And beside, the EU has asked in effect, “To what purpose?” 

Meaning: If you British don’t know what you want, not even having the ghost of a start for a beginning of a consensus, then how would more time help you? Except in your fantasies?

As for “more time,” for parliament to somehow have a different result, I am reminded of joke in Readers Digest: 
A child pleading, “But this time I will remember feed the hamsters, I will, so please don’t get rid of them…. And then Mother replying, “But I got rid of the hamsters two days ago.”

So many children in parliament… l’d rather talk about Billy Bragg.

Folk singers, of course, traditionally tend to be union men and socialists, not capitalists, being prone to believing in the world-wide brotherhood of workers, and the EU, not to narrow war-causing nationalism or racism. Bragg is no exception, and yet… he has a delightful song on Youtube, singing from the point of view of an old person voting for Brexit

—Scandal! The PC crowd said he was (a) “speaking for” Brexiters, (b) believed in leaving the EU, (c) believed in racism… et cetera, et cetera…

Commenters on Youtube tried to defend Bragg by saying he was only singing “ironically...” Here’s my take: Like Shakespeare, Bragg is not afraid to gently “wear the shoes” of a person with differing viewpoints. No agreement is needed, only respect. Isn’t that common sense? 

But “polarizing” means
that people are not gentle, 
that they think nothing is to be gained from following the queen’s advice to respect others,
that you are “supposed to” demonize-demonize-demonize. For the sake of being idealistic… 
that PC types, and US republicans and democrats, should all have the ego of a child, just like certain people in London.

Well, what’s the point of free speech if we can’t freely try to have empathy? Must our current polarization continue on for ever and ever, without amen?

Is it wrong to feel and to express, the shoes and the views, of other people? Are our PC friends part of the problem instead of the solution?

I am reminded of the town, back in the 1960’s, that was trying to get a cross-section “people’s committee” going, but there was one problem: The long haired types didn’t want any policemen on the committee. Finally a young person spoke truth to flower power: You just don’t want to rub shoulders with police, for in case you have to admit they aren’t capitalist pigs…Big silence, blushing… (Police were allowed to join)

As a young man, I resolved to never be afraid to mingle. I have kept that promise. 

It is said that on the day President Trump got elected many people on the two coasts honestly didn’t understand why fellow Americans were in despair enough to vote for him, just as they honestly don’t know why urban blacks would have enough despair to riot. For the riots, they blamed black hooligans. (Hint: if every hooligan had been magically transported to Mars the riots would still have happened, or else the despair that caused the riots would still be there—oops, am I being “not PC” and “speaking for” US blacks?)

 ( Incidentally, after a long, long time of polarized whites refusing to wear shoes, I remember a respectable looking middle aged black lady saying to a reporter for Time magazine, “If they have to ask why we rioted, they aren’t ever going to understand the answer.”)

As I shake my head at those Youtube commenters, I optimistically think to myself: Maybe sanity will return, maybe “computer readers” aren’t as smart as “real readers,” and maybe Youtube commenters don’t represent the “silent majority.”

Call me a cockeyed optimist but who knows, maybe some year soon our inappropriate polarizing in American life will change as non-politicians—including the PC, the party members and the activists—change their inappropriate ego levels. Maybe by then it won’t be so surprising that Billy Bragg has his act together. As for imagining politicians changing, well, even I cannot be that optimistic.

If you honestly don’t know why anyone would vote to leave the right-thinking EU, then (link) here’s Billy Bragg’s soft gentle song, a song that inspired me to go write a great big essay. No demonizing for charming Billy.

God save the queen.

Sean Crawford

~I’m not kidding about parliament being clueless: As of Monday, January 28, in a BBC News column by political editor Laura Kuenssberg
You wouldn't be blamed for thinking that all seems like Parliamentary fog. But until we see the numbers in the votes tomorrow, this week may not be the occasion when Parliament's view on Brexit becomes that much clearer. (Sorry!)

~For those with HBO cable TV, Benedict Cumberbatch is in a movie about Brexit, here’s the review.

~Question: And just what do the rich capitalists and financiers think of the chicken cluster in parliament? 
Answer: Obviously, they’re not worried: To my frustration, the British pound is doing fine. (exchange rate) I was hoping to buy some cheap pounds Stirling, so I could afford to fly to London and enter that Doctor Who store again. Of course there’s always hope, so I say: “Come on you chaps in parliament, show us some more childish behaviour!”

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Male Travel With H.G. Wells

Hello reader,
Got the male mind?

I once earned a few bucks writing a piece on the history of concrete. This after I told an editor I had toured a cement making plant along the Fraser river while on holiday. He said people didn’t want to know about a manufacturing plant, but then I got him to agree that cement history was OK. What made me laugh, at the time, was a woman telling me her husband visited such plants whenever they went on vacation.

Well, dear reader, if your husband was a tourist to Woking and London, what might be his perceptions be, both for nature parks and big cities? I have yet to write a long travel piece, but I did writes some long male-viewpoint travel poems, as part of my War of the Worlds tour.

First, you might take your man off to see the countryside 

Horsell Common Today

At last, an English common! 
In the books of my youth
Rupert Bear and Brock the Badger
are forever flying kites and finding adventure.

Horsell Common is huge and sprawling.
I spend my day zigging around to grasp the scale.
In a field of low heather near a Bronze Age barrow
a boy has lost a toy “Marines” helicopter.

Some open heather and clumps of trees,
fine for the army cadet battle drills of my teens,
is next to a deep, shady wood 
where someone has woven sticks to make a dome shelter.

The wood has wide earth trails for equestrians,
and medium orange trails for bicyclists and families,
with tire-wide marks from dog leashes
crossing narrow forest paths.

An extended family of East Europeans is picnicking
on sloping sand while their children build sandcastles.
Of course the Martian’s sandpit is still there,
but they don’t know it was Martian.

The pit today slopes to a pond in a low wooded land
with steep sides. I find two swings.
The kids who tied the ropes are probably adults now.

Overlooking the sand is a giant’s polished carved bench,
a log from another century. 
And below the road to Leatherhead
are straight trees, tall and wide, covered in ivy.

Off the trail, where kids won’t find it, 
is the broken body of a badger.
On this sunny day the kids may think of Robin Hood;
only a grownup would think of dark Martians.

Next, you might drag your man off to the big city

In Central London 

In the twenty-first century in central London
I marvelled at
vast stone shells 
set permanently on city blocks.
Workers, like termites, gut and renovate,
gaining access by a single electro-gate of revolving spokes.
I could photograph the men’s building cranes 
with their Plexiglas cupolas,
but I could not pass into their shells.

From the Thames I prowled through a museum-shell
and spoke with fellow art lovers.
Paints and conversations swirl up
and around the walls. 

I passed on into a shell of London fashion goers.
I could only listen,
as a reporter interviewed
a braless shirtless lady with an open blazer—
a real live model.

Entering into yet another shell 
I discovered a quiet college.
Ignored by students,
I settled in their cafeteria 
where I propped up my War of the Worlds
next to my big map of South England.

Students love talking
of life, the universe and everything;
of Doctors, and Daleks, and Martians—

But this day felt like summer in a silent college shell.

I finished my tea and trudged off to find the tube.

When you and your man are looking at the River Thames, and you are looking at the pretty waves, maybe his inner boy is looking at the dark boats… and Martians.

Thames River

The Thames is so nice.

The far riverbank is so close.
An ornate bridge looms over shallow water.
The Thames flows stately to the sea.

Along the seawall are lifesavers.
A ship floats moored as a restaurant.
A carrier of tourists chugs, midstream.

I look again.

A great Tripod wades in mid-current.
The cowl rotates as a dark terror, searching.
Tourists are terrified as the Martian regards the bridge.

A ray blasts the left bridge embankment; 
a ray smashes the right,
Bridge is falling 
across the Thames.

Diners rush the gangway.
Carrier flees downstream,
ray streaks out to smash the receding ship.
Steam clouds drift—

I look again.

The Thames is so nice.

Sean Crawford

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

My College Mentor

Hello Reader,
Got mentor?
Got meetings at work that function, or meetings that people hate?


I had the most inspiring mentor back in college, and I’d like to tell you about him… because I have just done the required “mentor speech”  last week at Toastmasters (TM) International, a worldwide organization of weekly public speaking clubs. Who was my mentor, and what was his lasting effect?

First, about mentoring: Some years ago, well back into the previous century, finding your individual mentor became a self-help term in the business world, as people sought help, sought to “have an edge” for their corporate climb. I take that idea with a grain of salt. Meanwhile, at work, my Chief Executive Officer mentors all of us at once with her often-expressed belief in personal growth and how “you have to hear a new thing six times before you learn it.”

Every month Toastmasters magazine (subtitled The magazine for Communicators and Leaders) includes an article on mentoring, with equal focus on the “mentor” and the “protege,” with the hope that mentoring within TM will really take off. The problem? People only want a mentor if they feel a need. A boy who pulls a sword out of a stone, and must become king at a very young age, will surely feel the need to have “advice, direction and support” from a mentor. Hence King Author had Merlin the magician. The rest of us? In Toastmasters? Not so much. So instead of speaking before my club about my toastmaster mentor, I told of when my world was young and I had a community college teacher.

My College Mentor

Gerry Bruce mentored all of us at once as he instructed us in something like “how to lead a meeting.” (Too bad college courses don’t have titles, only numbers) This class was a part of my career program in recreation, as the thinking went that someday, in a small town meeting about, say, building an arena, we might have to chair the meeting, with the townsfolk assuming that we graduates knew more than the average farmer about Robert’s Rules of Order, if only from our campus club meetings and student government. Gerry Bruce made sure we would be up to the challenge. (Meanwhile, some campus clubs—but not mine—never need Robert’s Rules as they never do anything more controversial than hold a wine and cheese party every semester)

Bruce once remarked that he didn’t need to prepare a lesson plan as we would make lots of mistakes and provide lots of “teachable moments.” He could say this only because, as our kids say, he “knew his stuff.” 

I am sure Bruce could have walked into class talking, and then kept on talking right up to the bell; walked in again next class and totally talk-talk-talked all class. But he didn’t. He had us doing practical exercises, holding meetings. Now, I’m a university graduate, and I can appreciate lots of data. Head knowledge. But what Bruce knew was what Plato said in Greece thousands of years ago: “The purpose of education is action.” What Plato didn’t need to add was: “You won’t learn a new thing, not well enough to take action, until you hear it six times.” What Bruce did was decide, before the term started, what few things he would keep repeating all semester, things for us to internalize. Forget loads of data: He knew people don’t drink from a fire hose.

“You can be competent, or you can be incompetent,” Bruce often said. This concept needed to be repeated because my classmates were, many of them, “post high school,” meaning: still flaky, still irresponsible, still a liability in a student group project. At the time I was in my twenties, fresh from the army base across the road, where keeping your word was taken for granted. I was aghast when the program secretary complimented me for always returning my “overnight” materials the next morning. Turns out half the class was being irresponsible to the point where the secretary was considering a black list. You might assume, “Oh well, everybody finally shapes up when they graduate to the working world.” Then again, you might assume graduates with a business degree know how to be responsible in a workplace meeting.

Certainly Bruce was competent. He had once been a small town recreation worker, but now he owned a fixed wing aircraft and made his living across the time zone as a “municipal consultant.” Surely he had taken responsibility to become competent before he started his business. 

We learned abstract things such as what to do if a group became stuck—Right now, over in Britain, a big group called “parliament” is stuck over trying to take action to decide on Brexit. They claim they are “gridlocked—” We learned practical things such as how to run a debate or a panel, and precisely why to have one in the first place. We practised standing up to speak, just like in real life: The college default, as it happens, is for students to timidly speak from their seats, which is easier, but not done in real life, not for a town hall meeting.

One morning we began the class by writing a midterm. Open book, since we would have our books in real life. After the test was over, we resumed learning.  We had a low stage at one end of the room, and it was here that some of us, after the test, had to go up and role model having a meeting. I remember one of us was to be a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, as the legion is a traditional funding source for children’s sports. Others were similarly from the community. The goal of the meeting? To start up a summer camp. I forget who I was to be, I only remember I was on stage too, but not as the chairman, thank God: Our meeting got stuck.

We stayed stuck, right there in front of our classmates, as our chairman did the usual chairman things such as having only one person speak a time, on a maybe-not-so-clear topic, but stuck we were, spinning our wheels ever deeper into the sand, and stuck we stayed. Until our teacher had mercy on us, and released us to slink back to our seats. 

Then our mentor raised his voice, not from hatred, not from anger, but for emphasis. “What the heck happened? You were stuck!…” We all shrank. “How could that be? You just wrote the mid term! Silence. “What should you have done?” …I’m pleased to say that I was the first person to timidly come up with something from our textbook. “Uh…”  “YES!” Once I had broken the logjam, Bruce knew we would all rush to consult the textbook and our notes, our bag of tricks… So he could immediately drop the topic. But not before giving us a final concept.

Bruce stormed, “You all reverted to old behaviour patterns!” Some things, I guess, you have to hear more than six times if you are to change. As it happened, I had just learned that community organizer Saul Alinsky—later, after President Obama was in the White House, known as “Barak Obama’s mentor”—had discovered the same frustrating limitation in trying to teach his people. I put up my hand and I said so, adding, “Now I’m feeling sorry for myself, because how the heck am I supposed to ever learn to change?” Our mentor replied that we students can learn the same way he did: By keeping an open mind.

What Was My Mentor’s Lasting Effect?

In my small-picture personal life, I have served as chairman of the board of directors of an evolving for-profit company: The other directors were eager action-oriented extroverts: As I kept them in check, yet moving forward against their realistic fears, I’m sure my classroom and textbook learning showed. 

For my big-picture citizen life, I have been able to see the world all the clearer… such as, during the past year, the British parliament, and the scandals of American social media. If two heads are better than one, and if their meetings were functional, then maybe Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg would not now be cravenly dodging a summons to speak in London before parliament. He knows “he done wrong.” 

And maybe Google would not have been found guilty and fined so heavily by the court of the European Union, not if at a Google meeting, someone had reminded the group of their former corporate vision of “Don’t be evil.” But if social media leaders—I’m looking at you, Zuckerberg—have bad character? Then it takes not a meeting but a miracle to save them. (On a computer nerd’s blog a commenter from Google exposed the ethical gap of his company: It was not pretty)

At the agency where I work, I once went around to each senior executive and I asked. Answer? I learned we do indeed have functional meetings, both at the senior executive level, which I don’t see, and at lower levels, which I do see. The sad thing is that I will read/hear/view on the internet, again and again, that businesspeople hate their workplace meetings. Why?

I don’t know why, but I will say this: I have read several sources about “how to be a facilitator.” It seems that if you are a consultant, called into a business to facilitate a meeting or workshop, for a half day or a couple days or more, then the usual procedure is to start with a flip chart or white board and ask the seasoned, serious, work-ethic, mature businesspeople to generate a list of behaviours, “the role of the member,” for having a functional meeting. What does this list, for all to see, show? 

It shows that folks in the working world, years removed from their flakey days as college students, know what to do—but they just can’t do it. Hence they need the prominent list to remind each other. For the remainder of the year, sans facilitator, they hate their meetings. Why? 

Besides prominent human nature reasons… perhaps they revert to old behaviour patterns. I suppose functional groups start with a functional management. While I see no excuse for incompetent meetings, I try to be charitable towards groups and executives, as I know human nature is very prevalent.

In my current life the closest I get to facilitating is being the chairman of Friday Free Fall, a voluntary weekly group of talkative, artistic, individualistic writers. Can you spell wild horses? A no-nonsense lady there commented I was a good chairman because I have both kindness and toughness, adding she couldn’t chair because she lacked the kindness.

And now I lean back from my keyboard, look into space, and then bend over to tap these kind words: 
Dear reader, I hope you may be willing to have personal growth… from hearing something six times, with an open mind… and then avoid reverting to old behaviours.

As Tiny Tim says, “God bless us, everyone.”

Sean Crawford
(Wow, how did it get to be)
2019 (so fast?)
On the Great Plains

~If you want me to quietly observe your meeting, then contact me here. (I hold a Master of Facilitation through Mount Royal University Continuing Education)

~Based on Gerry’s teaching, as shown in my essay, if you do a speech at toastmasters, then you don’t have to talk all through, for the full allotted time: Less is more. Use pauses. Repeat things as needed.

~On my blog “about me” page I said I like the series by David Gerrold of the Chtorr Wars: the U.N. versus an alien nature infestation. Humanity is shown trying to “up their game,” to meet this unprecedented world challenge, through having meetings, both functional and dysfunctional. 

A happy memory: I once sat with a small business owner, on the grass behind her store, because she ran meetings, here in Alberta and over in British Columbia, for (Scott Peck style) “community building.” I read aloud from Gerrold’s third book: A Day for Damnation. The composite cover showed a diseased forest on fire, a man in a flight suit, and a deadly jet fighter. 

My friend, who would never have read that book herself, loved the description of a training meeting where individuals want to “cop out” but the chairman is holding them accountable to reality… (She was the mother of the boy I knew K.I.A. in Afghanistan—lest we forget)

I can’t resist saying more: Halfway through the first book a U.N. science meeting is shown being dysfunctional. Now I understand: It’s partly because a) members don’t know/won’t do their role, and b) the first string leaders, the “A team” have all been killed by a Chtorr plague. (As have all the physicians)
Also, folks are still “in denial,” and the organizers don’t realize how they may fix that denial.

~Remembering that my essay on Assimilation a fortnight ago included aboriginals: 

A mentor can have an “effect” in many ways. Gerry Bruce, who lived in a small town, was quite sympathetic to indigenous, without using the phrase “white racism,” because “they had been hammered on.” Hence I silently said to myself: For our indigenous to achieve self-esteem it would be more energy-efficient, quicker, for them to switch away from trying for assimilation to trying for a “separate but equal” culture. Was I saying they should give up? Wimp out? I was saying they should make an appropriate decision as to where their energy goes. Like blacks did in the U.S. after 1969. (By the way, up here in Canada, blacks are just whites in black skin, in the eyes of indigenous) 

How creative of me: Because this would have been before the new Charter of Rights and Freedoms had officially said indigenous had a separate culture, and before I had heard the idea six times. (Cultural change lags behind government decrees and new technology) 

~My own “mentoring effect,” which surprised me, was a young woman at my university toastmasters club saying she was starting to read because of me. 
(Not all students, with their university level I.Q., are readers; some will not read even after graduation is behind them, when they merely have a straight job, sans course-load) 

It’s possible I had been unconsciously quoting books as I talked to my club, more likely I had made no secret of being an avid reader.

~I like students learning to be competent. For various comments on excellence, and the role of boards of directors, click on my label to the right for Olympics… One of the essays is called Olympics and Boards. You might also like Arete means Excellence, archived February 2014.

~In Gerry’s class, we even had to stand to tell a joke. I remember one day, just before the bell, he was seriously telling us recreation students about how people can escape life in many ways, not just through substances. For example: A man who wouldn’t crawl into the bottle, would instead leave his wife and kids at home to go jogging for miles.

I raised my hand, then stood to say, “That’s what I call, ‘running away from your problems!’”