In defence of the CRTC

INDEPENDENT MEDIA by Steve Anderson

I recently found my way into a media and technology industry conference where I ‘accidentally’ bumped into the chair of the CRTC, Konrad von Finckenstein, who was surprisingly charming. Our conversation couldn’t have been more different from my previous experiences at CRTC hearings where commissioners bore down with condescending glares like feudal lords. What’s more, Konrad also seemed pleasantly surprised to see me. Our interaction conveyed to me that this man knows what the CRTC is: a politically contested space.

Many media commentators, myself included, have been critical of the CRTC over the years. At times, it has seemed to see itself as a mediator between industries, rather than as a public watchdog. When it has made a decision that incorporated the public interest, it has often done so with a conflicted and weak-willed approach. Case in point: the “Traffic Management” ruling, while a huge step forward, puts the onus of enforcement of the open Internet on consumers.

Mobile internet openness = big win

If the CRTC’s weak nod to the public interest in the above decision doesn’t inspire confidence in the institution, two very recent rulings should. On June 30, the CRTC extended its Traffic Management (Net Neutrality) rules to mobile wireless data services. This ruling was made in response to requests by OpenMedia.ca, through its partner the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), two public interest organizations. This is a huge win. As Canadians increasingly connect to the internet using mobile devices, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of this ruling in terms of ensuring we have access to the open internet.

The case of Fox News North

On June 15, media giant Quebecor announced the launch of a 24-hour, right-wing news channel modelled after the Fox News network in the US. It appears the plan for the station was hashed out last year when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his then communications director Kory Teneycke sat down for a secretive meeting with Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, president of Fox News Channel. Teneycke is now leading this Canadian right-wing news network, which will be named Sun TV.

Rather than accept the need to compete on a level playing field as Al Jazeera English and other broadcasters do, Quebecor applied to the CRTC for a coveted Category 1 Licence, meaning cable operators across Canada would be forced to carry this Fox-style channel, which would amount to a subsidy of millions of dollars, maybe even tens of millions.

Despite the involvement of a key Conservative operative, and the political pressure that inevitably comes with that, it appears the CRTC is listening to the public interest community. In July, the CRTC sent a letter to Quebecor denying them Category 1 carriage until at least October of 2011.

Public engagement is key

When I bumped into another not so friendly CRTC commissioner recently, he quipped that the CRTC makes its rulings and the government overrules them if they don’t like them. “That’s how it works,” he said. This was an interesting and unsolicited admission – that he accepts the government’s ability to undercut the authority of the expert body that is intended to regulate our media – from someone who is supposed to be an independent regulatory commissioner.

The CRTC recognizes its own limitations within a highly contested space and feels political pressure from the Conservative government, which is very cozy with big media and big telecom companies. These companies also bombard the CRTC with their own arguments and narratives. Commissioners attend their conferences, the firms have a small army of lobbyists and, indeed, there is a revolving door between the CRTC and industry that means many decision makers come from the industry they are supposed to regulate.

But recent rulings suggest the CRTC can do the right thing when faced with public pressure. If the public is engaged en masse, the CRTC can be transformed into the public institution it is mandated to be.

Steve Anderson is the national coordinator for the Campaign for Democratic Media. He has written for The Tyee, Toronto Star, Epoch Times andAdbusters.
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Food and compassion

NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina

You have just dined and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Humans are magnificent creatures capable of achieving great heights. Although at times less than obvious, there is much goodness in humankind. Never before in history has any species invested so much time in helping other creatures. We love others. We try to remedy injustice. We feed people and we help dolphins washed ashore return to the sea. We do our best to be good. We care. We share. We value kindness, justice, truth, altruism, tenderness, generosity, compassion, love and service. When we’re good, we’re really good. And we can rightly be proud of ourselves.

At the same time, we often act like heartless barbarians – especially towards animals. Each year in the Faroe Islands, the sea turns red from the traditional slaughter of 3,000 to 4,000 whales. People pay big bucks to hunt the amazing wildlife of Africa and Canada. Animals are mistreated for our amusement. When Tyke, a circus elephant in the US, had enough and escaped, police shot him down in the street. But above all, we kill 60 billion animals every year because we like how they taste.

Our treatment of animals is inconsistent with the values we deem important. In our minds, this creates confusion and disconnection. While all animals are equally capable of feeling pain, we treat companion animals differently from pigs, chickens or cows. We credit our beloved puppy or cat with feelings and awareness, while denying the existence of such qualities in those our culture has labelled “food animals.” A kitten trapped for days in a container or a mistreated pony merit headlines. Concerned citizens then lunch on lamb or veal.

Along with our confusion, we carry a burden of guilt. Our behaviour towards animals becomes more difficult to maintain as we learn how complex, intelligent and sensitive all animals can be.

We choose to hide the evidence. We don’t know where slaughterhouses or animal factories are located or what goes on there. Occasionally, while driving, we may see the eyes of a calf being trucked to its death, but, otherwise, livestock being transported to the slaughterhouse pass us by, unnoticed. After skinning, cutting, packaging, roasting and covering it with gravy, there’s hardly a trace in our steak or drumstick of the animal’s origins. Incongruously, in our children’s picture books, animals lead happy, peaceful lives.

With a little research, we soon discover that killing animals for food is completely unnecessary for anyone’s nourishment; in fact, research shows meat to be detrimental to our health. Meat-centred diets increase our risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity and raise the risk of colon cancer by 50 percent. To avert these calamities, we then subject “lab” animals to medical experimentation in attempts to discover how to overcome such chronic diseases, without changing our habits.

Most important, perhaps, is the emotional disconnection that occurs when we kill or eat animals. We must suppress our compassion and then keep such feelings far from our consciousness. Many children, however, recognize the link between the meat on their plate and the living animals they have seen on country excursions or in picture books. In such cases, the child may be hushed and told that there is no problem at all: the animal was born to be killed for meat; it had a good life; it didn’t suffer. With such actions, the child’s empathy is stifled.

Shifting to a more plant-based diet takes a little time and know-how, but it is well worth it.

For veggie meetings and events, see www.meetup.com/Vancouver-Meatless-Meetup and www.earthsave.ca

For vegetarian restaurants in Vancouver and elsewhere, see www.vegdining.com/Home.cfm and www.happycow.net

Vesanto Melina is a dietitian, consultant and author. Visitwww.nutrispeak.com Call 604-882-6782. Tobias Leenaert was instrumental in Ghent, Belgium, implementing Veggie Day on Thursdays. This government-supported choice is being acknowledged internationally.www.vegetarisme.be/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=766

Seed savvy

ON THE GARDEN PATH by Carolyn Herriot

Farmers and agriculturists have been growing food and selecting seeds for future harvests for 10,000 years. Fewer than six generations ago, our ancestors lived rural lifestyles, growing food and saving their own seeds or acquiring them locally. Today, the majority of farmers don’t save seeds and most of the rest of us have forgotten how. As passive consumers in a global economy, despite all the amazing technology at our fingertips, we have forgotten how to feed ourselves.

Modern seed production is geared towards agribusiness, which is geared towards making food production as cheap as possible. Plant breeders hybridize seeds for identical plants for uniformity in harvesting and processing. In this biotech age, seeds are genetically modified for resistance to the ever-increasing amounts of pesticides that are needed for ‘farming’ with unnatural monocultures. Today’s consumers have become addicted to an abundance of cheap food from around the world, made possible by an era of plentiful fossil fuels. Unfortunately, the reality of cheap food is that it harms the Earth and it’s killing us through poor nutrition in the process.

 

Row of silverbeet going to seed.
Row of five-colour silverbeet going to seed

As we transition towards a sustainable future, agriculture will once again be based on small-scale, regional food production and we will need naturally pollinated seeds, which we can keep saving. Seeds that have been hybridized and tampered with genetically do not provide the solution to feeding ourselves.

Seed selection: As a seed saver, you participate in selection, encouraging the qualities you most value in a plant. Select seeds from the healthiest, best-performing plants in the garden, displaying the most typical characteristics of the variety. If selection is not carefully maintained, it’s easy to lose the favourable traits of a certain strain.

‘Off types’: Inspect the plants frequently to identify any ‘off types,’ plants that show different traits from the other plants. These should be ‘rogued’ out by removing them before they flower.

Seed collection: Timing for seed collection is critical and observation is the key to success. Wait until seeds are ripe enough for collection, but don’t wait until they have dispersed into the garden or the finches have eaten them. Be aware of weeds that hide among plants and remove them before inadvertently collecting their seeds.

I collect most seeds in brown paper bags, upon which I write the name and date of collection and any other pertinent information. If there’s a large volume of seeds to collect, I line large, plastic tubs with bags, which then stay in the greenhouse for two weeks so the seeds can dry. They are then moved to the dry garage, which is cooler, until they are cleaned in October.

Labelling: For everything you collect, identify the name and record the date of collection and any special features.

Drying: Thorough drying is critical before storing seeds in sealed containers or envelopes. The larger the seed, the longer it needs to dry. If possible, leave seeds to mature on the plant, but it is sometimes necessary to harvest seeds before they are quite ripe.

Cleaning: Remove the chaff and other debris by sieving seeds through screens of different sized mesh. Winnow seeds in a light breeze to remove any tiny particles or dust. I use a hairdryer on a cold setting to do this.

Storing: The ideal temperature for storage is 5°C, in a dark, cool, humid area. Avoid fluctuations in temperature. Paper bags, envelopes or airtight containers (yoghurt tubs) work well. Seeds retain longer viability when refrigerated or frozen. Place dried seeds in small, zip-lock, plastic bags; pack these into a sealed, glass jar and place in the fridge.

Carolyn’s new book The Zero Mile Diet – A Year-round Guide to Growing Great Organic Food is now available (Harbour Publishing).earthfuture.com/gardenpath/

Happily ever after

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Every end is a new beginning. 

– Proverb

Why is it that close to half of all marriages end in divorce? Are we more fickle, less committed, more restless and always searching for more?

We fall in love and it feels so wonderful that we want it for the rest of our lives. We get married, promising to love one another until death. We fall in love not only with the person, but also with the dream, the vision of what we think our life should be. At this moment in the evolving vision, we press pause and say that this is the picture I choose for my life.

It is the very human, egoic part of our being that does it this way. At the time, it is all that we know. We think we are the director of our life story and that we can set the agenda. If this were true, marriages would not end in divorce, accidents would not happen, loved ones would not die before we are ready to let them go and we would achieve all we desire.

Ego does not like to acknowledge that on this journey, the power is shared. We are only one half of the equation; the universe is the other half. This second half is the manifestation of soul’s destiny or purpose.

Imagine a sailboat setting out to sea. All the charts and weather patterns have been studied and a smooth, enjoyable journey is expected. Now imagine there is a sailing coach who has the ability to manipulate the oceans. He decides that, while a smooth journey would be nice, the sailor is very capable and would learn so much more if there were challenges along the way. He knows that while the challenges will be difficult, the sailor will gain strength and wisdom in struggling through them.

So the sailor sets out prepared to have an easy sail, with lots of rest and relaxation. A few days in, he discovers it will be anything but. He encounters rough seas with high waves and has to push himself to the limit to manage them. Eventually, the storm passes and he thinks the worst is now over and he can finally relax. Of course, the moment he does relax is the moment the rogue wave hits.

Our life’s journey and our relationships often go this way. While the ego plans to fall in love and live happily ever after, the soul’s agenda involves so much more. Sometimes, it seems like this: two people are drawn together with a powerful attraction and know they want to be together. Things go well as they plan their lives. Children come and they are overjoyed. A few, or many, years later, they are just not happy with each other and with their lives. Despite all of their efforts, they cannot get the feelings back. The love has faded, if not died.

It seems as though while they were dreaming, the bigger agenda involved bringing the souls of their children into this world. Those souls picked this mom and that dad and so they had to be together to fulfill this purpose. Once the purpose was fulfilled, there was no longer any reason for them to stay together. In fact, the universe had other agendas in which they needed to participate. Unaware of this, they go through all the pain and angst about how this should not have happened, as we do tend to think of divorce as a breakdown or failure of something that should have lasted.

I think we still need to believe in love, make sincere commitments and aim for the lifelong love with which some are blessed. At the same time, we need to learn to accept that the universe sometimes has other plans for us and the ending of the marriage is really no one’s fault. With this, we can learn to let go gracefully and honour one another for the gifts that surely were there, once upon a time.

Gwen Randall-Young is a psychotherapist in private practise and author ofGrowing Into Soul: The Next Step in Human Evolution. For more articles, permission to reprint and information about her books and “Deep Powerful Change” personal growth/hypnosis CDs, visit www.gwen.ca. See display ad this issue.

Climate change deniers deluded

SCIENCE MATTERS by David Suzuki with Faisal Moola

It must be difficult, if not downright embarrassing, to be a climate change denier these days. After all, the scientists they’ve attacked have been exonerated, London’sSunday Times newspaper ran a retraction and an apology for an article deniers were using to discredit climate change science and more and more denier “experts” are being exposed as shills for industry or just disingenuous clowns. (Naomi Oreskes’ excellent book Merchants of Doubt offers insight into how the deniers operate.) Meanwhile, evidence that fossil fuel emissions contribute to dangerous climate change just keeps building.

We use the term deniers deliberately. People who deny overwhelming scientific evidence, without providing any compelling evidence of their own and who remain steadfast in their beliefs even as every argument they propose gets shot down, do not demonstrate the intellectual rigour to be called skeptics. Meanwhile, evidence of the harm our fossil fuel addiction causes beyond climate change mounts every day, as oil spews into the Gulf of Mexico and industry and governments spend huge sums of money to keep us hooked.

Let’s take a look at some recent events. First, three independent investigations found the unimaginatively named “climategate” was anything but the scandal or “nail in the coffin of anthropogenic global warming” that deniers claimed. The reports, the last of which was released in early July, found that East Anglia University climate scientists at the centre of the hacked emails brouhaha could have been more open about sharing data, but their science was rigorous and sound.

And a review of criticisms of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s global assessment of climate change found that, despite “a very small number of near-trivial errors in about 500 pages,” the report contained “no errors that would undermine the main conclusions.” Yet another independent study supported Penn State University climatologist Michael Mann. Deniers have been attacking professor Mann’s research for years.

Another blow to the deniers’ arsenal came when London’s Sunday Timeswas forced in June to run a fulsome apology and retraction for an article it published in January questioning the findings of the IPCC report on rainfall changes in the Amazon. The Times admitted it had misrepresented the views of climate researcher Simon Lewis and that, contrary to its article, the findings of the IPCC report were backed by peer-reviewed research.

As their arguments fall apart, deniers have stepped up their efforts, even going so far as to send hate mail and death threats to scientists who are working to ensure our survival in the face of the greatest danger we face. And then we have the spectacle of the fossil fuel industry and petro-fuelled governments doing all they can to prolong our addiction to non-renewable and polluting sources of energy as oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico.

Our federal government recently cancelled an 18-month investigation into tar sands pollution of water and destroyed all draft copies of the report. And Alberta premier Ed Stelmach paid $55,800 to place a half-page ad in theWashington Post promoting tar sands oil and a pipeline to carry it to the US after the newspaper refused to publish his arguments. Meanwhile, premier Stelmach has joined with Alberta and federal government officials and oil industry representatives to promote tar sands oil in the US and to water down any US regulations that might reduce fossil fuel consumption.

Of course, the deniers will ignore the evidence. Nothing would please us more than if they were right. Life really would be easier if fossil fuels like oil and coal did not cause environmental damage or pose risks to life on our small planet. But this is the real world, with real scientific evidence pointing to the urgent need to make changes in the way we live and get energy.

We have many ways to confront the threat of catastrophic climate change, from individual efforts to conserve energy and pollute less to government initiatives to encourage development of clean energy technology. It’s time to listen to the people who continue to look at the facts in the face of baseless accusations, break-ins and threats. We need to listen to those who are trying to do something about our predicament rather than wishing it away.

Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org

Summer peace

WRITING ON THE WALL by Joseph Roberts

One thing I want is a world without nuclear weapons. So does Lucy Walker whose film Countdown to Zero opened in Toronto this month. Countdown to Zero is a major documentary film produced by Participant Media and Lawrence Bender, Academy Award-winning producers of An Inconvenient Truth. The Global Zero movement, launched in December 2008, now includes over 200 political, military, business, faith and civic leaders plus hundreds of thousands of citizens working towards the elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide. Check it out at globalzero.org

Given that the USA possesses the majority of atomic bombs, America can lead the way by ridding the world of thousands of their own atomic bombs. My suggestion: start with the obsolete, rusting nukes and then get rid of the more precious modern ones. According to the World Court in The Hague, even the mere possession of atomic weapons is a crime against humanity. One reason is that nuclear weapons do not discriminate between civilians and military; we are all cremated equally.

Back in 1982, when I dreamed up Vancouver’s first Walk for Peace, we didn’t have computers (or even an event permit), but we managed to create Canada’s largest anti-nuke peace event with 35,000 people in attendance. That number grew to 100,000 by 1984. Back then, cameras used film so, unfortunately, there is little on the web to show that such a wonderful event ever happened. Let’s change that. If you have an inspiring photograph or a written piece, we invite you to share your favourite memories from those first three Walks for Peace. Send it to editor@commonground.ca or mail it with a SASE to Common Ground, Lets Talk Peace, #204 – 4381 Fraser Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 4G4.

We need more of this kind of creativity because the human race wants to survive. Either you are with the human race or the arms race so choose very wisely. Get active now or radioactive later.

Brazil wins

A massive online campaign by the Avaaz community in Brazil has just won a stunning victory against corruption. The “clean record” law was a bold proposal that banned any politician, convicted of a crime of corruption or money laundering, from running for office. With nearly 25 percent of the Congress under investigation for corruption, most said it would never pass. But after Avaaz launched the largest online campaign in Brazilian history, helping to build a petition of over two million signatures, 500,000 online actions and tens of thousands of phone calls, the people won.

Avaaz members fought corrupt congressmen daily as they tried every trick in the book to kill, delay, amend and weaken the bill. Avaaz still won the day every time. The bill passed Congress and more than 330 candidates for office already face disqualification.

Silvia, one Brazilian member, wrote to us when the law was passed, saying, “I have never been as proud of the Brazilian people as I am today! Congratulations to all that have signed. Today, I feel like an actual citizen with political power.”

The Avaaz strategy in Brazil was simple: make a solution so popular and visible that it can’t be opposed and be so vigilant that we can’t be ignored. This victory shows what our community can do, at a national level, in developing nations, to combat the awful problem of corruption. Anywhere in the world, we can build legislative proposals to clean up corruption in government, back them up with massive citizen support and fight legislators who try to block them.

You can read more at The Economist: “Cleaning up. A Campaign Against Corruption,” The Rio Times: “Anti-Corruption Law in Effect This Year” and Le Monde: “Operation Clean Sheet in Brazil” (in French).

Lawrence Scanlan, author of A Year of Living Generously: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Philanthropy (published by Douglas & McIntyre), wrote about Ursula Franklin, the celebrated physicist, pacifist, author and Companion of the Order of Canada winner in the Ottawa Citizen on July 28, 2010. “Now 88, Franklin is ‘profoundly worried about the absence and erosion of democracy in Canada.’ When Franklin sees cabinet ministers holding press conferences to discuss legislation not yet debated in the House of Commons, she sees democracy deceived. And when she hears the prime minister saying he does not “trust” the Opposition, she sees contempt for democracy itself. ‘Who wants to live in a country,’ Franklin asked, ‘where those who don’t think like you are deemed untrustworthy?’”

How incredible it would be if, after almost 800 years since the Magna Carta(1215), real, honest democracy would break out in English speaking countries such as Britain, US and Canada. Imagine a “Magna Democracy” by 2015 where all people’s civil rights are protected, corrupt politicians are rehabbed and our governments work for the betterment of citizens rather than for global corporations.

It would be a much healthier situation all around.

Counting what “counts” in healthcare

 

DRUG BUST by Alan Cassels

Albert Einstein might have been talking about the way we currently monitor our health when he said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

One thing is for sure; when it comes to our own health, the medical system we have created expects everyone to do a lot of counting. In our zeal to count things, we are told to strive for “targets” and to push for lower numbers of blood pressure, blood cholesterol or blood glucose and a lower BMI (body mass index). Amidst all the counting, we often forget the fact that those numbers are surrogates for the things that actually ‘count’ – the quality of your life and your health – and we should never lose sight of that. We measure, calculate and count and some people even fill their lives with the ‘busywork’ around their health numbers hoping that something – better health, maybe? – will be achieved.

If you ever find yourself feeling guilty about your numbers – your apparent “high” blood pressure, or your “high” blood glucose – take some solace in this: numbers concerning your health may seem like objective measures and worth fighting for, but the meanings we construct around them are anything but objective, as they’re so often shaped by the twisting fog of bias, superstition and fear. The numbers aren’t as important as the meanings we attach to those numbers and those meanings are often way out to lunch.

The over-arching problem with much medical measuring and counting is that it wastes valuable time that could be spent on activities that could actually make a difference to our health. It also causes unnecessary worry and needlessly turns people into patients, making us all obsess about the wrong things and sometimes making us do foolish things that make us sicker.

But before you accuse me of health heresy and send a mob of angry doctors to lynch me, let’s take a closer look at some of this stuff.

Blood pressure

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada states that Canadians should “learn about what constitutes healthy blood pressure readings, cholesterol levels and lifestyle habits.” In this vein, they tell you that you should aim for an “optimal” blood pressure reading 120/80 mm Hg. Ok, fair enough, but what, in this context, does “optimal” mean?

For some people, this target is impossibly hard to achieve, even with several drugs. Old people will naturally have higher blood pressure as they age; should they strive for the magic target as well? We need to bear in mind that some people naturally have higher blood pressure than others, our blood pressure fluctuates all the time, sometimes the readings are wrong and sometimes the doctor simply standing next to you causes your pressure to spike and, and, and… The whole blood pressure thing is fraught with uncertainty and controversy.

Even most doctors won’t know about the growing disagreement in the medical community about how low your blood pressure should be. Back in 1999, more than 800 doctors, pharmacists and scientists from dozens of countries around the world signed a letter to then director general of the World Health Organization, Gro Harlem Brundtland, saying that the new hypertension guidelines, developed with pharma’s help, of course, set new international targets for blood pressure, which resulted in “increased use of antihypertensive drugs, at great expense and for little benefit.” Pharma with its own people on the committee deciding the blood pressure guidelines? Mon Dieu!

But that’s the way the world works and it works the same with drug company officials diddling with the setting of targets regarding blood sugars and cholesterol and just about everything else we measure that can be altered by taking a drug. What happens is that these committees inevitably set targets so low, the population of people told to take drugs grows exponentially. What a great way to make money. God bless capitalism.

To say this is crazy making is an understatement, but read on.

BMI

Many people in wellness say you should aim for a Body Mass Index (BMI) of between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m2, which is a simple mathematical ratio between how tall you are and how much you weigh. If you are curious about your numbers, go online and use any BMI calculator to find yours. If your BMI is 25 or higher, you are considered to be “overweight” and should talk to your doctor about it.

What you won’t be told is that the BMI was invented by a 19th century Belgian mathematician named Lambert Quetelet who explicitly said the BMI should not be used for the purpose of indicating the level of fatness in an individual. Others have said the BMI level is basically useless, as it doesn’t account for relative proportions of bone, muscle and fat and doesn’t really give a clear indicator of obesity level. Since bone and muscle are denser than fat, a person with strong bones, good muscle tone and low fat will have a high BMI. Are you an Olympic rower? Your BMI is probably close to 30!

Despite its limitations, there is evidence that health fascists are terrorizing the population with BMI-derived numbers. A recent article in the UK’s Derby Telegraph tells a story of five-year-old Grace Hill who, according to the article, loves to swim, dance and ride her bike. The picture of her smiling face reveals a normal, healthy looking five year old. Her mom is steaming mad, however, because she recently received a letter from Big Brother (the National Health Service) with the following warning: “Your child is overweight for their age and sex.” Britain’s health service is incurring the wrath of other angry parents who have received similar letters after their youngsters were weighed and measured as part of a nationwide program. You have to ask, “Can labelling kids, who come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, as ‘fat’ and warning their parents they are at risk of heart disease, cancer and strokes be helpful?”

High cholesterol

But let’s move on to the most infamous numbers of all – your cholesterol levels. The Heart and Stroke Foundation is among many groups recommending that men over 40 and women over 50 have their cholesterol checked. The goal is to see if you have “high” cholesterol and thus at increased risk for a heart attack or stroke. Suffice to say the cholesterol level considered ‘normal’ has been fudged lower at least twice in the last decade, an action which overnight has expanded the definition of “high” to include millions more people. The bottom line here is that lowering a person’s cholesterol with drugs, when they’re otherwise healthy, is an utter waste of time.

Don’t believe me? A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine published this past June looked at 65,000 people from nine different statin studies and found that no lifesaving benefit was achieved by treating healthy people with statins. We know that statins can provide modest benefits in people with established heart disease and can help prevent a second heart attack, though it is not possible to extrapolate those benefits to healthy people.

Yet the statin juggernaut keeps rolling on, pushing healthy people to get their cholesterol tested, to “know their numbers” and to obsess about those numbers to the point they are convinced they need to swallow a pill every day – a pill which, in rare cases, could kill them.

The statin cheerleaders have been incredibly effective, making our cholesterol numbers a national obsession and driving a market of gargantuan proportions. In 2009, Canadians filled 31 million prescriptions for statins, at a total cost of $2.6 billion, a ton of money and a lot of drugs for people worried about altering a stupid, little blood reading.

Diabetes

Having diabetes is all about counting the levels of your blood sugars. If you are a diabetic or know a diabetic, you’ll know all about the modern practice of blood letting, i.e. testing your blood sugars sometimes several times a day just to make sure it isn’t too “high.” Last December, CADTH, the Canadian Agency for Drugs in Technology and Health, reported that frequent checking of blood glucose for non-insulin using type-2 diabetics is not a good idea. In fact, there is evidence that frequent checking of blood sugars can be harmful, causing anxiety and depression amongst type-2 diabetics.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen a subtle shift in the marketing of blood testing for type-2 diabetics, with more emphasis on getting these people to test their blood more and more frequently. What’s driving this is the medical marketing machine, which continually scares people into testing their blood sugars frequently, wielding kidney disease, blindness and amputation as fear mongering tools of manipulation. More and more intensive monitoring means lots more money for the glucose test strip makers, the people that make the glucose monitors, and, of course, those who sell drugs.

Those who want to push blood pressure screening, cholesterol-testing, blood glucose monitoring and BMI measuring will say all this counting is important to remain healthy.

But I see it differently. Much of the counting is about aiming for absurd lower thresholds, which results in more and more people helplessly swallowing pills, worrying and obsessing about their numbers and otherwise focusing on the wrong thing.

Before you worry about the numbers coming from your personal cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose or BMI levels, you should do what you intuitively know you need to do to stay healthy: eat well, get enough exercise and take time everyday to relax.

The American satirist Ambrose Bierce defined an egotist as a “person of low taste – more interested in himself than in me.” Maybe I should rephrase this: the health egotist is the person more interested in his numbers than his health. To those who wish to be egotistical and love the busywork of counting, I say, go for it; you’re not likely to hurt anyone but yourself.

Alan Cassels is a drug policy researcher at the University of Victoria and the author of The ABCs of Disease Mongering: An Epidemic in 26 Letters. Read his other writings at www.alancassels.com

Fight for your civil rights – staying silent is not an option

by Cameron Ward

Cameron Ward photo by Harrison Ha, www.harrisonha.com

On August 1, 2002, Vancouver lawyer Cameron Ward was wrongfully searched, handcuffed, arrested and jailed for planning to throw a pie at then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Cameron subsequently sued the Vancouver Police Department and his jailers. The final result was the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on July 23, 2010, that Canadians have the right to sue for monetary compensation if their constitutional rights are violated. This is Ward’s story of his eight-year ordeal and ultimate vindication.

On April 17, 1982, the day I saw Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Trudeau sign the new Canadian Constitution on the front lawn of the Parliament Buildings, I felt I was watching history being made. As a second year law student attending the University of Ottawa, I realized the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was an important new piece of legislation that would redefine many aspects of Canadian life. I had no inkling, however, that some 28 years later I might be making a bit of Charter history myself.

On July 23, 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada issued its decision in Ward v. City of Vancouver, unanimously declaring that Canadians may have the right to sue for monetary compensation if their constitutional rights are violated. How did I, a Vancouver civil litigation lawyer, end up as a party in a case some commentators are hailing as a significant development in the law pertaining to civil liberties?

To answer that question, we must go back to the evening of November 25, 1997. I had received a call at home from a client who said she was in jail in Richmond, after being arrested in connection with the APEC summit at UBC, and would I please come quickly to help? It turned out that my client was one of dozens of people arrested at UBC that day by overzealous members of the RCMP, who had pepper sprayed and detained student demonstrators alarmed that their campus was playing host to the likes of President Suharto of Indonesia and President Jiang Zemin of China. Many speculated that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien or his aides had been responsible for the police crackdown and two years of high-profile public hearings ensued.

I continued to act as legal counsel for many of the student complainants and, as a result of the attention the case received, I became something of a lightning rod for those with grievances against the police. My practice changed and I found myself frequently representing the families of those who had died at the hands of the police or those who had been injured by police conduct. A year later, for example, I found myself representing people who had been injured by police batons at the so-called “Riot at the Hyatt,” which was not a riot at all, but one of the most egregious examples of police brutality I have witnessed. A squad of Vancouver crowd control police emerged from the breezeway under the Hyatt Hotel on Burrard Street and began indiscriminately clubbing protesters who had congregated there to protest a speaking engagement by Prime Minister Chrétien. I also represented the families of Jeff Berg, Tom Stevenson and Robert Bagnell, men killed by Vancouver police in separate, unrelated incidents.

All of this was difficult, challenging and frustrating work and it probably didn’t make me any new friends in the police community, or, for that matter, in the legal community, where most prefer to believe the police can do no wrong. While I have always respected the work of police officers, they do enjoy enormous power and I firmly believe they must be held accountable when that power is abused. The only effective check on police misconduct, in my experience, is the civil justice system, and my cases on behalf of a variety of plaintiffs attracted some public attention.

This was the context for the events that transpired on August 1, 2002, a day I will not soon forget. Prime Minister Chrétien, of APEC and Hyatt fame, was once again in Vancouver, this time to conduct an opening ceremony at the new Millennium Gate on Pender Street. On my way to the office, I stopped and parked my car at a meter. It was before 10:00 AM. Out of curiosity, I wandered over and watched a bit of the ceremony. I was struck by the level of security, heavy even by APEC standards, and was a bit unnerved by the sight of police on rooftops with automatic weapons. I became bored by the speeches and left, walking briskly in the direction of my car.

A Vancouver police officer confronted me and demanded, “Were you planning to throw a pie at the Prime Minister?” I looked at him incredulously and said, “No, of course not.” While I may have had my differences with Mr. Chrétien, it would never have occurred to me to plaster him with meringue. In the same forceful tone, the police officer then said, “Show me your ID.” I suppose it was the lawyer in me that responded with “Why?” I knew that, in my country, police did not have the right to demand identification from a pedestrian in the street without some legitimate reason for the request. It seemed my answer was not the one the officer wanted because I immediately found myself in handcuffs. Two more officers arrived and I repeatedly asked them whether or not I was under arrest, without receiving an answer.

I grew frustrated and began asking to call a lawyer. Again, I received no answer. Realizing I had my cell phone in my pocket, I reached in with one hand and took it out and began punching in a number. One of the police officers promptly took it away. I was searched and my wallet and keys were removed. I heard the police officers call my identification in.

I continued asking, over and over again, if I was under arrest and could I call a lawyer? The police ignored these requests and I became more and more frustrated. I was trying to convey that there had been a misunderstanding, but they would have none of it. Remembering that one of my clients had once escaped a trip to jail by attracting attention to his plight while detained on the street by police, I began to raise my voice in the hope that a passer-by would come to my aid. I felt helpless; the police were ignoring me and I couldn’t summon help by telephone, so what was I to do?

A police wagon was called to the scene and I was unceremoniously deposited inside. Still in handcuffs, I was driven to the jail and left in the stationary wagon for what seemed like an interminable time. I could see police walking around outside and I shouted for help. They laughed.

After a while, I was taken out of the wagon by one of the officers involved in my arrest. He showed me my possessions and told me, for the first time, that I was under arrest “for investigation of assault on the Prime Minister.” I shook my head in disbelief and asked again to call a lawyer. The request was denied. “There is no privacy here,” I was told. I responded, “I will gladly waive my right to privacy; let me call a lawyer,” but I was getting nowhere.

I was taken into the jail. I began repeating, “I want to call a lawyer.” I must have made this request 30 times over the course of an hour and I was getting no closer to exercising my right to contact counsel. The sergeant in charge of the jail grew impatient, saying, “We can do this the easy way or the hard way.” I was deposited in a large cell for a while, presumably to discourage me from asking for a lawyer. I gave up and was soon taken to a smaller room where two large men with blue rubber gloves told me to take off all my clothes. This was getting uncomfortable. I noticed my knees trembling as I disrobed, but couldn’t tell whether it was from fear or cold. I suppose it made little difference. When I was standing only in my briefs, I decided to again speak out. “Look, I am a lawyer; I know what the law is and it’s against the law to strip search me,” I said, with as much bravery as I could muster.

A conference ensued between the men wearing the gloves and “sergeant hard way.” I was spared further embarrassment and was allowed to dress, albeit without my shoelaces. I was taken to a cell marked “INTOX” and the door closed heavily behind me. I looked around. I was alone in a tiny, concrete cell that measured about one metre by two metres. It was completely barren, save for a video camera in the top corner of one wall. I sat on the cement floor and waited. Many hours passed. I remained alone, staring at a blank cement wall with smears of dried blood and perhaps other bodily fluid, contemplating my fate. I knew I had done absolutely nothing wrong and had certainly not assaulted the Prime Minister, but hey, why was I here? I thought to myself, “The World Trade Center attacks of September 11 were less than a year ago. Does someone think I am a terrorist? Will I get out of here?” I am not necessarily claustrophobic, but as I sat, uncomfortably, in that confined space, with all kinds of thoughts running through my head, I realized I would probably sign just about anything in exchange for a promise to be released.

Finally, I was removed from the cell. Two detectives met me at the booking desk. One said, “You were arrested because you matched the description of someone who we had information was going to throw a pie at the Prime Minister. We arrested him and realized you were not involved.”

“What,” I sputtered. “When did you arrest him? I’ve been here all day.”

“That’s all I can tell you,” the detective said. “We’ll take you to your car now.”

“Thanks,” I replied. “I’ll show you where it is.”

“That won’t be necessary. We have it.”

I was driven to an impound lot and told not to touch anything, as there were other “crime vehicles” within. I got in my car and drove home. I had no sooner walked in the door than a friend called and told me he had seen me on the evening news, in handcuffs, being put in a police wagon.

That was distressing. I consulted a lawyer friend and we decided to seek an immediate apology from the Vancouver police. They refused and published comments making matters worse so I lodged a formal complaint with the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner and sued the police and jailers.

The police complaint was investigated by Abbotsford police and dismissed as “unsubstantiated.” I pressed on with the lawsuit. A week before trial, I offered to drop the case and walk away in exchange for an apology. The defendants refused and a six-day trial ensured, resulting in the judge awarding me a total of $10,100 in damages for my unlawful detention, the unreasonable search of my person and the unreasonable seizure of my car.

The defendants appealed to the Court of Appeal and to the Supreme Court of Canada, losing in both instances. They probably spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the eight-year process. I had my own counsel, Brian Samuels, who generously devoted hundreds of unpaid hours to my case. It was quite an education.

What did I learn? I learned how powerless one can be in the face of authority. The police officers that dealt with me that day were arrogant and rude and clearly felt they could abuse me as they saw fit. I also learned first-hand how daunting, time-consuming and expensive it can be to try to vindicate oneself. I am now even more acutely aware of and sensitive to violations of constitutional rights.

Would I do it again, knowing what I know now? Unquestionably, yes. Staying silent is not an option. When our rights as citizens in this democracy are violated, we must stand up and fight for them. Civil rights and liberties are under assault and are being eroded daily in this country. If we turn the other cheek, we will lose all that we cherish and hold dear.

Visit www.cameronward.com

And then there was Light

Ancient and mysterious, this phenomenon continues to dazzle us

by Geoff Olson

Light strikes us to the core. A fiery sunset, an intense rainbow or an auroral display can evoke awe and joy. Generations of painters, photographers and cinematographers have created powerful works of art by exploiting the liminal properties of light. How is it that something so seemingly impersonal – waves of radiation from nearby or afar – can penetrate us so deeply?

Languages across the world associate light with awakening and awareness. In reaching understanding, we “see the light” or a “light dawns” on us. We talk of “illumination” and “enlightenment.” Clever people are “bright,” and the cleverest are “brilliant.” Thinking is referred to as “reflection.” We speak of the “light of the spirit,” and its inversion, a “dark night of the soul.”

The Indo-European languages act much like Rosetta Stones, constantly cross-referencing words for light and consciousness. Perhaps there is a connection between the implicit light of metaphor and myth and the explicit light of science.

The light of a blind resistance fighter

Few writers have captured the evocative nature of light as skillfully as French author Jacques Lusseyran. In his memoir, And There Was Light, Lusseyran tells of the kinship he always had with light rays, beginning when he was very young: “I liked seeing that the light came from nowhere in particular, but was an element just like air. We never ask ourselves where the air comes from, for it is the air and we are alive. With the Sun it is the same thing… Radiance multiplied, reflected itself from one window to the next, from a fragment of wall to cloud above. It entered into me, became part of me. I was eating sun.”

This fascination did not stop when night fell, Lusseyran wrote. When he came in from outdoors in the evening, he found the fascination again in the dark. “Darkness, for me, was the light, but in a new form and a new rhythm. It was light at a slower pace. In other words, nothing in the world, not even what I saw inside myself with closed eyelids, was outside this great miracle of light.”

Jacques Lusseyran
Jacques Lusseyran

At the age of eight, Jacques lost his eyesight in a schoolyard accident. Although totally blind, he was not left in complete darkness. “I began to look more closely, not at things but at a world closer to myself, looking from an inner place to one further within, instead of clinging to the movement of sight toward the world outside.

“Immediately, the substance of the universe drew together, redefined and peopled itself anew. I was aware of a radiance emanating from a place I knew nothing about, a place, which might as well have been outside me as within. But radiance was there, or, to put it more precisely, light. It was a fact, for light was there… I found light and joy at the same moment…”

The author claimed that this inner world of light would often accurately mirror the external world. While walking with a sighted friend in an area he had never been before, Lusseyran could indicate a particular line of trees on the horizon or some other landmark and his friend would confirm the scene. This seemed to be a strange talent indeed.

The blind teenager was safely above suspicion of dissident activity during the German occupation of France. Incredibly, he capitalized on his disability in 1941 to organize a local Resistance movement called The Friends of Liberty along with 52 other boys. The 17-year-old activist became head of recruitment and accurately assessed would-be resistance fighters through his heightened perception of vocalization. “Four-fifths of the Resistance in France was the work of men less than thirty years old,” Lusseyran wrote in his memoir.

At great risk, this blind leader of the French Resistance and his young friends began covertly printing a newspaper detailing Nazi atrocities and distributing copies in the middle of the night. Eventually, Lusseyran was caught and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp, along with 2,000 other French citizens. Most of his friends died in the camps, but Jacques survived and moved to the United States where he taught French literature until his death in a car accident in 1971.

While most of us have never experienced anything comparable to Lusseyran’s “miracle of light,” is it possible his experience was the explicit form of what human beings have implicitly said about light for centuries, in myths, poetry and even popular song?

The mystery of light without

The light we see with the human eye, from violet to red, is just a thin wedge in the electromagnetic spectrum, from high frequency gamma rays to low frequency radio waves. But visible light has remarkable properties. Go far from the city, on a clear, moonless night. If it’s the right time of year and conditions are favourable and you know exactly where to look, you’ll be just able to see the galaxy M31 with the naked eye. This dim, little smudge is an island universe of a trillion stars, 2.5 million light years away. The stars’ ancient light set out long before human beings ever existed. Gaze up at a slowly circling firmament of stars and you are interacting with the greatest time machine in existence – the cosmos itself.

 

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein

Science hasn’t rid the world of mystery; rather, it has made us appreciate its depth. Einstein wrote: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

Prior to Einstein, scientists were confident they had scrubbed the universe free of any ambiguous properties. Atoms were like hard, little billiard balls and light was a waveform, like ripples in a stream. All further discoveries would be refinements of existing knowledge, scientists believed. With just a few more decimal places added to their solutions, they could sit back and enjoy their clockwork cosmos, ticking along eternally and perfectly.

In 1905, a German clerk working in a Swiss patent office published a paper suggesting the capacity of radiation to generate an electric current might be better understood if light was conceived of as a stream of particles. Einstein had begun thinking about light as a boy, and about what the world would look like if he could travel on a beam of light. The paradoxes resulting from his thought experiment led to his groundbreaking paper on the Special Theory of Relativity. Under extreme conditions, time and space can become as rubbery for the observer as a dividend statement from Bernie Madoff. Mass is equivalent to energy and only space-time, an abstract combination of all four dimensions, retains its universality for all observers.

It was Einstein who determined that light sometimes behaves like a particle, and at other times like a wave, a property that was later discovered to extend to all atomic objects. Particles and waves are about as different from each other as cheerleaders and Cheerios, and they are quite impossible to reconcile conceptually. The great American physicist Richard Feynman cautioned against attempting to understand the concept of wave-particle duality, admonishing, “Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, ‘But how can it be like that?’ because you will get down the drain into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that.”

Einstein turned out to be a reluctant revolutionary. This wild-haired Bolshevik of twentieth century physics couldn’t abide the uncertain direction his scientific revolution took. He led the charge against the temple of Newtonian physics, but he refused to join his colleagues in the final demolition. “God does not play dice with the world,” he insisted in his arguments with Danish physicist Bohr. Yet there is now abundant laboratory evidence that unpredictability reigns supreme at the atomic realm. Newton’s majestic clockwork has been replaced with a cuckoo clock cosmos, hooked up to a random number generator.

Light is immaterial – pure energy, oscillating in an empty field. According to the equations of relativity, time slows down as objects approach the speed of light, implying that light itself exists in a timeless dimension. Yet upon observation, it collapses into the field of time. Physicists have proven that mass-less particles of light, called photons, can be in spooky correspondence with each other though they may be light years away, even though Einstein once conceived this very state of affairs as proof that quantum theory must be wrong because it was in complete violation of any common sense picture of reality.

Einstein determined that time and space change according to the observer’s frame of reference, while Heisenberg and Bohr discovered that the observer’s role affects the outcome of atomic experiments. With the observer reintroduced, you might say the twentieth century revolution in physics began to address the division between the objective and subjective – the hard-edged, measurable world “out there” and the inner worlds of sensation and feeling, “in here.” We still haven’t bridged the gap between the world as it is known and the world as it is felt. But light, with all its abiding mysteriousness, may be one avenue to reach this seemingly impossible goal.

The mystery of light within

So what of the subjective description of light and all the metaphors for awareness and thinking – “reflection,” “brilliance,” etc. And what connection, if any, exists to the ambiguous light of quantum physics? On one hand, it seems perfectly obvious why light should be used as a metaphor for awareness. When something is lit up, its outline is sharp and it is clearly defined. When we are in darkness, we bump around in confusion and lose our way. Yet the millennia-old linguistic linkage of light to consciousness seems to transcend the obvious connection between seeing and understanding.

There was a time when “illumination” and “enlightenment” were more than metaphors. Several thousand years ago, so-called “Mystery cults” were widespread across the Mediterranean area. Historians have only fragmentary knowledge of these ceremonies, but they appear to have sometimes involved spurring a transformative inner light among the participants.

The most important of these initiation ceremonies was held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone, based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. This major festival of the ancient world, open to all levels of Greek society, was believed to have begun in the Mycenaean period, around 1600 BC, lasting for two thousand years. For a tradition as long-standing as this – the longest in human history – we know remarkably little about the details of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Although they were sworn to secrecy, ensuring that little was recorded for posterity, the initiates were allowed to speak of their experiences in general terms.

According to Plato, “the ultimate design of the Mysteries … was to lead us back to the principles from which we descended, … a perfect enjoyment of intellectual [spiritual] good.”

In Ancient Mystery Cults, Walter Burkert described mysteries as “initiation rituals of a voluntary, personal and secret character that aimed at a change of mind through experience of the sacred.” During the course of these rites, in the supreme moment of revelation, initiates experienced some kind of supernatural luminosity. As Hippolytus wrote, the purpose of encountering the light is to discover “the sublime mysteries of nature.” It was a literal illumination that was simultaneously felt, heard and seen.

The visions of light were sometimes imparted with a powerful revelation, filtered through the cultural consciousness of the time. The Latin writer Apuleius wrote of his revelation from initiation into the Mysteries of Isis: “I am Nature, the universal Mother, mistress of all the elements, primordial child of time, sovereign of all things spiritual, queen of the dead, queen also of the immortals, the single manifestation of all the gods and goddesses that are known to you on Earth.”

This fragment from Themistios contains a telling line: “The soul at the point of death has the same experience as those who are being initiated into the Mysteries. One is struck with a marvellous light.” There is a similarity between this and later Buddhist teachings. Most notably, the Tibetan Book of the Dead speaks of the phenomenon of light in the after-death experience. Contemporary accounts of near-death experiences also speak of a beckoning, brilliant light.

We are obviously talking about something much more significant than a metaphor. At the introduction of the ceremony, initiates into the Eleusinian Mysteries drank a beverage called kykeon. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hofmann and Carl Ruck, authors of The Road to Eleusis, have argued that kykeon was a psychoactive drink made from ergot of rye. This pharmacological key opened a door into the inner world of the participants, with guidance supplied by the Eleusinian priests and priestesses. If the authors are correct, the Ancient Greeks had a cultural tradition that was both ancient and futuristic: a culturally sanctioned biotechnology of the soul.

The persistence of inner light

Yet tales of an inner light are not limited to ancient history and they can happen spontaneously, without prolonged isolation, fasting or drugs. In his 1902 book, Cosmic Consciousness, the Toronto doctor Richard M. Bucke wrote in the third person of his own experience in a Hansom cab, returning home after an evening spent discussing philosophy with friends. Suddenly, he thought the cab was on fire.

“All at once, without warning of any kind, he found himself wrapped around as it were by a flame-coloured cloud… he knew that the light was within himself. Directly afterwards came upon him a sense of exaltation, of immense joyousness accompanied or immediately followed by an intellectual illumination quite impossible to describe… he saw and knew that the cosmos is not dead matter but a living Presence, that the soul of man is immortal, that the universe is so ordered that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of each and all, that the foundation principle of the world is what we call love and that the happiness of everyone in the long run is absolutely certain.”

If Bucke lived today, his inner light might be pathologized as some form of mental confusion, listed in medical reference texts as ‘perverse phototropic Pollyannaism,’ treatable with ‘Despondex’ or some other affect-flattening drug.

Of course, we can be assured there is some neurological pattern associated with such experiences and many of us are just fine leaving it at that. Religious fundamentalists are often suspicious of pleasure in general, and boundary-dissolving experiences in particular. And scientific materialists are as quick to reject anything with an occult stench as Dickens’ character Ebenezer Scrooge was to dismiss the ghost of Jacob Marley as a “lump of undigested potato.”

This experience of a transformative inner light likely happens more often than we think. It’s just that such anecdotes are rarely shared, partly because there is no agreement on which box to stick them in, on either the Judeo-Christian or secular shipping floor, except possibly ‘devilish’ or ‘delusional.’

A Vancouver woman in her mid-eighties recently shared with me that, after her husband’s death, she was filled with an intense light, which came with a powerfully sensed, nonverbal message: everything is all right. The world, with all its passing terrors, hardships, beauty and joys, is complete unto itself. Who are we to tell her that such an experience, engraved into her memory like a name on a locket, was just some obscure neurological hiccup and not a momentary glimpse of the truth?

Enter the Helicopter Man

In Einstein’s “miracle year,” 1905, he gave the world three scientific papers that completely altered our view of reality. It was also the year of the Russian Revolution, the Wright Brothers’ first successful airplane flight lasting more than a half an hour and the expansion of Canada with the addition of Alberta and Saskatchewan. 1905 was also the birth year of philosopher, cosmologist and inventor Arthur M. Young, best remembered for the invention of the first commercial helicopter at Bell Labs in 1947. Yet by the end of his life, this now mostly forgotten figure, a creative genius who has been compared to Albert Einstein, had given the world a radical new cosmology that connects light, life, spirit and science.

I’ll be taking this topic further in my talk at the Vancouver Public Library on Sept. 15.

www.geoffolson.com


Common Ground Special Events presents Geoff Olson Live! September 15, Vancouver Public Library, 7:30pm 
Tickets 604-733-2215