West Wing Wednesday Night #20


November 11
Today of all days, I must start my note by honoring past and recent
sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war to support peace and fight for what we value. The veterans and soldiers stories are so moving and inspiring and at least once a year, we are reminded we take so much for granted.

A great note of appreciation as well to all who stayed home (even on short notice) with the flu last month rather than contributing to its spread amongst us – we send healing vibes to all of you! And for the record – holding H1N1 parties news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8125191.stm is a really dumb idea.

On the menu for the November session, a few key questions:

1)    Over the past decade we have built an economy online where the default price is zero. What is the real price of “free” and is it sustainable? Can businesses really make a business model out of nothing? Who pays the price for the Creative Commons?

2)     So many of the things that have defined our times are becoming obsolete, but it’s not clear what should replace them – bring your own favorite items, but the starter list for the conversation could include:

·            Globally: the sinking US dollar in terms of global currency and the G8 as the global decision makers

·            Canada: the federal Liberals and the monarchy

·            GDP (see Sarkozy’s call for a new measure to replace it  http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/09/14/pm-gdp/ – did not get to this topic last month and still want to)

·            The use of oil as a measure of product cost/environmental impact (?? replaced by an analysis of amount of water used??)

·            Technology: the home phone and the way we do long distance; the PC desktops, the television set

·            The handshake

3)     And last bit not least, going from global to local – Vancouver city – budget, transportation and etc – and if you have not yet done so – go do the budget survey at http://dialogue.vancouver.ca/survey/2010-Operating-Budget

Then again, we never know where the conversation will go!!! We look forward to welcoming friends back and meeting the new guests. Come to think, discuss, be inspired, and exchange ideas and insights, all you of interested, interesting, informed and informative folks in town.

And if you can’t make it this time – we have a Xmas gift recommendation that you will truly enjoy – and according to last Saturday’s National Post, this is a book that both Harper and Ignatieff have read and recommend: Brian Lee Cowley’s “Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada’s Founding Values”. The author came to present at Rick Peterson’s Burgundy Luncheon Club last month and blew us away with his brilliantly original analysis and energetic optimism about Canada – so go pick up the book. Two warnings: it will change our thinking about Canada and you may not be able to set it down once you pick it up, so choose your timing well.

PS. In  case you are curious, last month, Mark Masterson won the 20$ contest on Obama’s Nobel peace prize by converting even the most cynical amongst us.  Quoting this passage from James Orbinski’s “An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-First Century”, p. 382:

“…Days after 9/11, President George W. Bush promised to lead a “crusade” against “evil.”  Even though he later retracted the word “crusade,” he would us it again in the months to come. […]  In just a few short years, the world has been remade into a place where the phrase “American exceptionalism” has become a euphemism for “you are either with us or against us” and has been used to explain the American withdrawal from the 1972 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the failure of the U.S. Congress to even consider the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court, the pursuit of the weaponization of space, the imposition of a right-wing Christian ideology onto American foreign and international health policies, the rewriting of the rules of war to create non-status POWs, and the co-option of traditional notions of humanitarianism as weapons of war itself.”,

Mark’s point was that within the first 6 months of his administration Obama undid all of the measures Orbinski listed that were implemented under Bush. Most elegantly argued I must add. And appreciation to all who sent in written submissions, including the following cartoon that Sally Elliott sent while on her way to the Caribbean:

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