Wednesday Night #1765

Written by  //  December 30, 2015  //  Reports, Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

The presence of Marion Canute changed the focus of the evening’s discussion to her recent experiences as the German Red Cross in the Feldkirchen and Erding refugee camps (or “Waiting Areas”) in Bavaria. As “Information Delegate” Marion dealt with media and information as well as internal communications in the camps, as well as pitching in at various other stations during the aid for & processing of the flow of new arrivals -sometimes as many as 1000 a night. She confirmed media reports that a number of the new arrivals were reported to have left reception centers of their own accord, and without being registered, to travel to other areas of the country. Overwhelmed by the numbers of people arriving, authorities were focusing on their humanitarian needs and not on starting the registration process. There is also an understandable sensitivity on the part of the German authorities to impose the registration/documentation process when it is resisted. However, this means that the authorities will have no means of tracking large numbers of undocumented people who will be moving across the national borders.
The insights Marion offered led to a broader discussion of the current refugee crisis and how it differs from the previous ones that Europe has coped with (This migrant crisis is different from all others) with some expressing fears that the influx of Muslims will have far more lasting effects on the culture of the host countries than did any other group. It was noted that already in England there are entire communities that are ‘foreign’ enclaves, populated by Muslims who show no willingness to adapt to their new home, thus creating the people’s fear -and resentment- that their identity is under threat.

Commenting on the news of the cancellation and/or muting of New Year celebrations in many European capitals because of the terrorist threat, Kimon expressed his concern that while this action “will not destroy our civilization, as we know it, it cannot be accepted as the New Normal either. There will be an increasing momentum to treat these threats as global rather than local and hopefully put an end to this “disease” by a combination of hard power and soft power. The two must go together like the blades of scissors. The root causes must be addressed but concerted “hard” global action is also needed. The “Empire must strike back” to use an image from the current best selling STAR WARS thinking. Otherwise we will forever live a poisoned, anxiety ridden existence.”

P R O L O G U E
JanusAs 2016 approaches at warp speed, we celebrate the Roman god Janus, keeping us temporarily free of today’s cultural/religious conflicts and encouraging us to look back to the events of 2015 and forward to 2016, while recognizing that the most sophisticated modelling cannot begin to prepare us for what may transpire over the next twelve months (and 52 Wednesday Nights).

We will leave it to you to select your own year-end reviews – there are hundreds on every possible aspect of the economy, entertainment, governance, politics, science, sports … and restrain ourselves to a very few items that caught our eye.  We will leave prognostications for the first Wednesday Night of the New Year.

Did you all marvel at the full moon on Christmas night? The first since 1977 –a very eventful year–  when Jimmy Carter was president and George Lucas’ Star Wars became the highest grossing film of all time. Jimmy Carter is still with us and has become one of the most respected world leaders in his retirement. The Force is also with us in the guise of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and again breaking records as the fastest release to reach $1 billion in worldwide sales – and that’s without the China market. The latest addition to the Star Wars franchise has also contributed to animated (sometimes passionate) discussion of In What Order Should You Watch the Star Wars Movies?. Definitely more entertaining than interest rate fluctuations.

How the world changed in 2015
How have we changed over the past 12 months? How low did the loonie go this year? What new things did we learn about Pluto? And how has the emoji gone from frivolous to credible? CBC takes a look at some of this year’s big shifts in sports and science and entertainment, from coast to coast and around the globe.

The Atlantic has sparked major controversy with its (somewhat curious) claim 2015: The Best Year in History for the Average Human Being, arguing -in our opinion counterintuitively- that Violence dominated the headlines this year. But by many measures, humanity is in better shape than it’s ever been.
CBC takes issue with that cheery headline:
2015 ‘the best year in history?’ Not everyone agrees
Some bright moments in past year, but development experts dispute ‘best year’ claim by The Atlantic Monthly

SciDev.net offers a wealth of in-depth features covering the big issues at the point where science meets policy in developing countries including the Editor’s picks: Opinions and special features in 2015
Don’t miss the overview of integrating modern and traditional medicine that takes readers through the tricky terrain of negotiating the promise and challenges of mixing the two traditions, navigating issues from R&D and medical testing to nature conservation and regulation.

Confirming that there is often more validity in tongue-in-cheek reviews than in news reports and analysis, Dave Barry Answers – Was 2015 The Worst Year Ever? (Spoiler Alert: Yes). This long and mostly entertaining review of the month-by-month year, contains more than its share of kernels of truth. Example “… The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that July was the hottest month globally ever recorded. With a renewed sense of urgency, the world’s industrialized nations vow to continue sending large delegations via jumbo jets to distant conferences on climate change until this darned thing has been licked.” Well worth cuddling up with when snow-bound.

The MUCH shorter 31 Things Americans Should Know About Canada. Seriously. is worth sending along to foreign friends (including Americans), but before doing so, have a look. As the last line says: Now you just might know more about Canada than most Canadians do!

While on the topic of things most Canadians may or may not know, Wayne Larsen‘s piece in which he describes A.Y. Jackson’s wartime assignment with Lord Beaverbrook’s Canadian War Memorials Fund The canvas of War is a must-read.

While it is fashionable among the older generation to decry the pervasive presence of the Internet as the source of all manner of trivial and often downright misleading information, we are delighted to conclude with this new Danish concept gleaned from Scandinavian Wisdom that came via a Facebook friend.
“Hygge is peeling off your frosty winter coat after some frigid laps around the frozen pond and discovering that someone built a fire in the wood stove while you were outside. Hygge is sipping a craft beer at a local pub and smiling across the room at the stranger who sighs in contentment upon walking into a room filled with cheerful chatter. Hygge is sitting down at the kitchen table to journal by candle light in the predawn darkness while the coffee perks. Hygge is warm blankets, fresh bread straight from the oven, steaming mugs of tea, crackling fires, good books, children whispering in a corner, acoustic guitar music and conversations that mean something.
“And most importantly, hygge is taking the time to slow down and savor all those things that lead to a sense of contentment, coziness and community building.”
Could there be a better goal – in either hemisphere – for 2016?

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