WorldWideFuture Weblog

the future of education, politics, science and art

Socially yours…

Been a while since I posted…October 09 to be precise, and not much before that. Truth is, been getting into social networking, Facebook and Twitter. As an observer of the trends into the future, I have been most intrigued about how useful FB and Twitter has become. I noticed a while back that companies were telling customers to visit their Facebook page rather than web sites. This is huge shift in the way of doing things.

On the occasion of my 55th birthday, and the start of my vacation, I hope to reinvigorate my blogging, perhaps cross posting from Twitter. If it still seems quiet here, come visit me on Twitter at ThePhotowagon.

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June 28, 2010 Posted by | Communication, education, future, politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President;

Congratulations on this fine day for being sworn in as the leader of the most powerful nation on earth. Your speech today was outstanding. I never thought I would say this but today I wish I was American. You have come to this point to bring hope for a brighter future not only for the people you politically represent, but also for the people of the world.

I am sure you know of the joy and the hopes you have wrought from all quarters of the globe. So many of us consider you the foundation of change we hoped for from the United States of America. So many are depending on you to bring about a dramatic change of direction, to make the mark of historical change that comes once in a generation, to finally usher in the 21st century we were all expecting. It is a heavy burden no doubt. I am sure you must feel the weight of the ages, as Lincoln himself must have felt as he too tried to heal the wounds of misdirection and loss of purpose. I wonder what Lincoln would say right now? I am sure he too would be impressed with the hope you represent, and would worry about the mantle of responsibility you now wear. We on the outside of America can only trust that you will have the foresight and wisdom to fulfill your destiny as the leader of a new age.

Watching Obama's Inauguration Speech via web 09.01.20

Watching Obama's Inauguration Speech via web 09.01.20

Our hopes and fears are with you to live up to the promise of becoming the first global president of the United States. In trying economic times, with the constant threat of those who will work against freedom, we truly hope that you find the courage to defeat the forces of cynicism and insularity and protectionism that have threatened the foundations of freedom and democracy for nearly a decade now. We hope you will have the courage to end the pessimistic politics of Fortress America. We hope you will have the courage to finally make America green and to work with the rest of the world to create a truly sustainable future.

Watching Obama's Inauguration Speech via TV 09.01.20

Watching Obama's Inauguration Speech via TV 09.01.20

Long live your words last November: “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”

Amen, Mr. President.

January 21, 2009 Posted by | economy, future, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A future subverted

The real crime concerning the current economic crises, (real and media imagined), is that almost all talk of the looming environmental crises has disappeared from the political discourse. Instead of Silent Spring we have Silent Fall, (and maybe Silent Winter?) where the carbon heat death of the planet has taken the back seat to the gambling loses of the well-to-do. Greed is the new green, and we are all poorer for it.

Here in Canada this fall we had completed another $100 million election for naught. The opposition Liberals, who exhibited exemplary courage with a proposed “green shift” of taxes from income to polluting behaviours, also exhibited a lack of fortitude and leadership to keep it at the forefront against a Conservative government quite lacking in any environmental initiatives. The economic meltdown silenced the green shift as the Conservatives continually hammered the electorate with the dangers of the Liberal’s “carbon tax” during tough times. The silence of the Liberals sealed the fate of green shifting taxes forever. Despite a viable model in many countries, it will be political suicide for anyone to bring it up again.

The American presidential campaign has just wrapped up as well. I don’t recall hearing many pronouncements on the environment, though Obama has all appearance of becoming the first green president. (One can only hope). But…ten billion a month on the war in Iraq. One trillion dollars to bail out the mistakes of bankers and so called stock market analysts. You won’t be hearing much about conservation, biodiversity, ecology, sustainability, carbon sequestering, pollution control or alternate energy while jobs are being “outsourced” and “Joe six pack” is going to lose his job. The world wide future has receded into the background noise, and it may be long before we ever reconnect with the immediate problems of sustainable energy, food and water and air to breathe.

Funny thing is, the answer to these environmental issues may also be the direct and most possible solutions to the recessive economy.

December 20, 2008 Posted by | economy, Environment, future, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Show me the money!

Everyone seems to be talking about billions in bailout money…for everyone from financial institutions to car manufacturers. The US is ready to dump billions…Canada, Europe, Japan, China, etc. ready to follow. Brings to mind some interesting questions…

Where is this money coming from? If this money already existed, why wasn’t it used to pump up the economy or help rebuild infrastructure in the first place? How can all these governments, crying the economic blues for so long, have all this incredible supply of money just sitting there?

If all this money is virtual, isn’t virtual money the problem in the first place?

If this money doesn’t exist, which generation is going to pay for the trillions in bailout money?

Here we have the case of giant corporations, who have paid exorbitant funds for the acquisition and retention of financial “experts”, only to be brought down to the brink by negligence or basic lack of foresight. How can we expect them to utilize the money wisely, and who do you really write the check to?

While I have not been scanning the net deeply, I have been watching the TV news and reading the odd newspaper. Seems to be some really important questions to answer, but like many instances in the recent past (like invading Iraq) we don’t have a viable “fifth estate” asking them. This does not bode well for the world wide future. The biggest question: where is the media when you need it?

December 18, 2008 Posted by | economy, future, politics | , , , , , | 3 Comments

The 21st century can begin now

The Americans finally got it right. It seems that for a long time now we have lived in a world of deception and greed and suspicion and dirty tricks. The Bush years should be known as the Fortress America years. It felt like intelligence crawled under a rock and the sun was going to be forever hidden by cloud. But did you hear that? It was the collective giddy excitement felt around the world: the Americans got it right and elected someone we all felt they never would, an African-American clearly not of the ol’ boys club and a man of vision and hope for the future.

Remember the questions: “where were you when Kennedy was shot?” or “where were you when the planes hit the towers?” We will be saying “where were you when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States?” I have to beg forgiveness if it all sounds over-dramatic. Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but in talking to people one comes away with the feeling that the world has suddenly shifted. Only this time it suddenly radiated hope that the future is going to be brighter.

I envy the Americans and their history. Born in revolution against the rule of empire and a history lived through a spirit of individualism and freedom, their story is something to marvel at. But their recent history…the cynicism and pessimism of Nixon’s Watergate and Vietnam, of Clinton’s executive privilege and especially Bush’s unjust and unjustified war in Iraq had dimmed Liberty’s torch. It seemed to signal the end was at hand for the American century, and it was only a matter of time before a new world order, a dark one at that, would be taking over.

Obama ran a positive campaign of hope and promise, not once stooping to the negative sarcasm that characterized the Republican’s messages. Some people never learn. Whether Obama can live up to the image and the promise remains to be seen of course. But the tears in the eyes and the cheers worldwide and the joyful look of the people of Chicago that night in November said it all… at least for now we can all imagine the heavy weight has been lifted and the world-wide future awaits in anticipation. Perhaps we can now see the promise of the 21st century.

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”

– Barack Obama November 4, 2008

Bravo Barack!

November 7, 2008 Posted by | politics | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Puffins poop, lipstick smears and we all lose, again

I started this blog because I was concerned about “future crashing into the present” as described by Alvin Toffler in Future Shock. I hoped that my blog would be a means to keep myself actively informed and perhaps help me bring insight into a bit of the future for myself and my fellow netizens. Well, now it is election season in North America, a.k.a. the theatre of the absurd. The Americans, of course, have been at it for what seems like eternity. We here in Canada are just beginning our spectacle (well, it seems we have been at it forever too, with an ineffective minority government). The election ritual makes me ponder the impact and implications of democracy on the world wide future. First, can we hope that we will have a leadership that is informed enough about true scientific and economic factors to govern a complex society; and secondly (and more universally), does democracy in its present form work in a global economic situation? Can we hope that politicos will forego the usual self-preservation pandering to portray the future as it really needs to be?

Lessons can be learned from the current political theatre both in Canada and the US, where in the case of Canada, puffins poop and in the US lipstick hides the old guy. This is blatant pandering to the masses if there ever was one.

We live in times where we, the people must make hard decisions to secure a viable future for the next generation and beyond. The cracking of ice sheets are sounds that should be heard around the world as the dire warning they are. But is the environment even creating a single bubble in the water cooler? At least in Canada it is an issue, though clouded. In the US, the supposedly “leader of the free world”, you can hear the tumbleweeds blow by the whole issue.

In Canada, our Liberal party, currently in opposition, has come up with a plan to tax the wasteful and encourage future thinking (called the Green Shift). On first read, it looked like yet another tax grab that will never disappear (wasn’t income tax a temporary measure to pay for WWI?) But at second read it makes sense for the future if enacted as described (increase taxes on wasteful high energy consumption, decrease income taxes and tax relief for sustainable energy use). However, the Conservatives, now dressed in cozy blue sweaters, heap scorn on the plan by portraying puffins pooping on the Liberal leader Stephan Dion. The Conservatives, who used to have the word “Progressive” in front of their party name and have rightly stripped it off, have not addressed a single issue regarding the environment. They even lead a futile attempt to keep the Green party from the upcoming televised debates. Boy, we aren’t moving ahead very far, aren’t we?

Elizabeth May, head of Canada's Green Party

Elizabeth May, head of Canada's Green Party. Can the green message ever be effective in today's political theatre of the absurd? (Photo by Michael Scott, taken at Orleans town hall meeting March 22 2007)

Meanwhile, back in the US, the party of George Bush has resorted to the blatant attempt to hide any real issues by hiring an unknown woman (Sarah Palin) to run as the VP (a gun toting, bible thumping one at that!) McCain had to go all the way to Alaska to find anyone who will detract from the disastrous last eight years of their ruling mandate. I haven’t heard the word “environment” even mentioned once by the media since who knows when…the story of the day is about lipstick on pigs.

The quandary for democracy is that the hard issues…paying more for services, scaling back to cover debt or increased costs, making sacrifices for protecting the environment, making long term plans for a more sustainable future, are in direct conflict with saying the right things to get elected. The result is bowing to the lowest common denominator, while lies, deceit, clouding the issues, pandering to special interests, spending sprees (real or imaginary) and empty promises. We, the people, lose. We need to take a cold hard look at democracy and how it really works in a much more complicated, globally connected world. One just has to watch with a cynical eye any of the commercial ads by politicians to understand that we will not be served by the current crop of politicians.

There is a problem with our electoral system that precludes a true democratic process, and yet it is easy to fix. At present, if one was disenchanted and disillusioned with the political process one can either spoil their ballot or not vote at all. But either method is meaningless…the statistics just get melded into the apathetic or mistaken pile. What we need, for the furtherance of democracy and to send a clear message of distrust and disgust for the empty rhetoric of party politics is a line on every ballot: NONE OF THE ABOVE. Simply, if one is not in favour of political party pandering, deceits, false promises, empty rhetoric or hidden agendas, then one can send a message to the system to rethink and come back again with a realistic and responsible government. NONE OF THE ABOVE. We need a way to say: a successful sustainable future requires clear honest messages and serious planning that goes beyond the politics of the past. The future has crashed into the present, and has highlighted the need for a systematic retooling of our society’s infrastructure. We need to start fixing the way society is run by looking at the way people are hired to make the decisions if we want a bright world wide future.

September 15, 2008 Posted by | Environment, future, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Empty Rhetoric and the World Wide Future

Well, I finally heard it today…a candidate for US president, McCain, blab about getting jobs and moving America forward and making America great again. I think George Washington stood on the jobs platform. In the world wide future, will we put up with such empty blitherings from politicians? Same day, the G8 politicos blabbed on about cutting emissions by 2050, which of course by then they won’t be around to care. It is too painful to watch and listen; really hard to contain myself when I hear such automaton thinking and drooling. I really wish we had a watchful media to yell bloody hell when politicians utter such vacuous nonsense, but yet again, it appears no such luck. Does the public really listen and believe this stuff? I would hope not. It is long overdue for the time to end pretend democracy and get on with real public service. Unfortunately, apparently, in the world wide future, no one hears you scream.

We tell our students that to vote is a privilege and a duty, however, I find it hard to reconcile the fact that there usually is no difference between parties, and that party politics (read: special interest groups) trumps public interest too many times. What is missing from the ballot is a “none of the above” option, spoiling a ballot or not voting doesn’t allow one’s dissatisfaction to register. (More on my campaign for “Vote None of the Above” later!) In the world wide future, true democracy can be accomplished by allowing the public to vote on each issue (we have the Internet!) and by calling politicos to task on their promises directly.

It is not enough to teach students to vote, the world wide future requires us to teach them to be proactive on issues that they will face in their lives.

-Michael Scott 2008

July 9, 2008 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , | 1 Comment