Can you kick in?

MamaKata2

Hi folks,

With 10 days to go, Brigitte and I are asking for your help to get her “Not Just for Kicks” project across the finish line. I know a lot of you have supported our bigger projects, for which we’re very grateful. And we’ll have another one in the spring that I hope you’ll think is worthwhile. And a number of you are supporting us with monthly donations that are also much appreciated.

So now I’m asking people who enjoy our work but haven’t yet backed it to put something into Brigitte’s project. She’s over 2/3 of the way to her $1,500 target to help her make a book and video about her and our daughter’s journey to the WKC world karate championships in Dublin, Ireland, about the hard work, the sense of achievement and the victories over fatigue and fear. But we still need $400.

Can 80 people kick in $5 each in the next week and a half and make it happen?

Thanks.

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The end of the world news

While politicians are gassing on, here’s the sort of thing that really matters: the Washington Post reports on a superbug resistant to last-resort antibiotics, and liable to share its genes with other more sinister bacteria, that has reached the United States.

People tell me, oh, I wouldn’t want to live in the Middle Ages because they didn’t have antibiotics. Well, we did and we squandered them.

Three cheers for modernity.

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Where’s the compassion?

In today’s Mercatornet Newsletter, Editor Michael Cook cites a noteworthy observation by his colleague Carolyn Moynihan:

A great deal of ink has been spilt over the rather dreary topic of the state of public bathrooms in the United States. Transgenders, it is argued, clearly have a civil right to access the bathroom of their choice. This is an issue which affects, at most 0.3% of the population. For my money, Carolyn Moynihan, our deputy editor, has penned the most sensible contribution to this debate. She asks why Americans are working themselves into a frenzy over bathrooms when nearly 1 in 6 young men between 18 and 34 is either out of work or in jail.

In principle it’s possible, even logical, to be compassionate to everyone. But her observation underlines how selective, and ostentatious, some people’s concern seems to be.

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The Invictus

There he goes again, you may be tempted to say. Our PM posed with the Canadian Invictus Games team and did their pushup-then-lock-one-arm-and-extend-other-hand gesture while issuing a thinly veiled challenge to Prince Harry and President Obama to do the same or something similar for the British and American teams for the upcoming games in Orlando. NBC headlined it “Watch Justin Trudeau’s Macho Challenge to Obama, Prince Harry” and indeed my first thought was “Showing off again, huh?” But on reflection I’m going to praise him instead.

First, the Invictus Games created by Prince Harry “for wounded, injured and sick Service personnel” are an excellent cause. Second, fitness is an excellent cause. Third, and crucially, the two leaders he implicitly challenges are both themselves healthy and physically active. It would be unfair and in bad taste to call out a political leader who through age or misfortune couldn’t do such a thing. But in this case I appreciate his doing the… well, it sure is a clumsy thing to describe.

So I was thinking of dubbing it “the Trudeau” so we can do it at the dojo without spending five minutes naming it. But I decided “the Invictus” was a better name. Because this time I don’t think he was calling attention to himself but to two worthy causes: rehabilitating wounded members of our Armed Forces and those of our allies, and staying fit.

Yes, it’s a challenge, to other leaders and to the rest of us. But it’s a worthy challenge because most of us should be able to do at least one “Invictus”. If Trudeau happens to look good doing it, it’s because he keeps himself in shape. And that’s a good thing.

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Keynote address to the Real Estate Institute of Canada

Next month, I’m delighted to say, I’ll be taking part in the REIC annual meeting and conference in Ottawa. The topic of my address will be “Without Ethics, None of This Works”.

Institutions are vitally important. But even more fundamental is a political and commercial culture that values honesty and shuns and punishes deceit. Without honesty, formal rules mean nothing, in government, in real estate and commerce generally, and in our private lives.

Without ethics, none of this works.

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The old flag

File:Flag of New Zealand.svgIt’s great news that New Zealanders have voted to keep their flag instead of adopting an ugly empty substitute. And revealing news.

At first the traditional flag seemed doomed, partly because it was the traditional flag. Why, it even had the Union Jack, and the usual suspects were saying New Zealand couldn’t be all grown up until they dumped their heritage and… what? Got a new one?

Oddly, the incoherent answer there, as so often here in Canada, was implicitly if furtively yes. The other ugly options with ferns were somehow meant to represent the real New Zealand, which didn’t spring from the Anglosphere but by some strange coincidence had all its virtues while being trendily postmodern, inclusive and amorphous or something, And typically it was the “centre-right” party that was pushing the change.

Unsurprisingly it was veterans’ groups who spearheaded the opposition early on. And possibly people with taste. And in the end the politicians managed to make the whole thing sour and skewed, and in the aftermath people are going after PM John Key, claiming that by intruding his own preferences for a new flag he prevented the people from voting the old one out in favour of a blank space into which some false new traditional emblem could later have been easily inserted.

It’s one thing to be sensitive to failings in our past and determined not to repeat them. And, to be fair, to worry that your flag looks too much like Australia’s, as some New Zealanders did. It’s quite another to reject the past but deviously, substituting an ersatz one instead of owning up that you really don’t like the place as it actually evolved and want to get a new better one. And when consulted, people with a heritage worth keeping will reject the latter every time. As I very much imagine Canadians would have done if given a vote on whether to ditch our Red Ensign for a logo in the Liberal Party’s colours back in 1965.

I don’t think it’s coincidence that the traditional New Zealand flag is actually nice to look at and the various replacements were not. They had that focus-grouped-logo look, smooth, manipulative, contrived and off-putting. And in that they accurately reflected the deeper impulse behind the move to replace the traditional emblem and the tradition itself with something artificial and uninspiring.

Anyway, congratulations to New Zealanders for keeping the old flag flying. And not just, I hope, on the flag pole.

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College students interested in liberty can win money!

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, our fundraising partner on the True North and Free documentary project on fixing our Constitution, has just announced the 2016 version of its Essay Contest for Canadian college and university students.

Their website gives the full terms and conditions. But basically if you were a college or university student in Canada last year or will be one this year, you’re invited to write 2,500 words or less on:

Should the government and government bodies, through law and policy, force voluntary associations (charitable, political, cultural, ethnic, religious, social, recreational, educational, etc.) to be inclusive and welcoming of everyone?

Why or why not?

There are cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

 

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What’s that you’re swearing?

In my latest National Post column I ask how it can be sexist and traumatic for waitresses to wear skirts, yet a foul-mouthed rapper headlines a glittering reception for the Prime Minister in Washington.

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