Much Ado About Nothing

There’s been so much hullabaloo lately about NFL (and other professional and amateur sports team) players, in particular, Colin Kaepernick, kneeling during the playing of their own national anthem before their events.

Many feel this action or form of protest disgraces the national anthem and the country for which it is sung, as well as the team for which those players may play.

But we must take a step back and see different points of view before we judge so harshly the actions of others.

The United States has long defended peaceful protests, even upholding the privilege to do so in their Constitution, together with the freedoms of speech and personal expression.

Looking at it from another point of view, it is also easy to sit in judgment of protesters when you have not been victim of the injustices and unfair treatment being protested in the first place.

From a more practical point of view, consider that a form of protest is likely most effective when in a place like a stadium where tens of thousands of people have their attention fixed on one spot.  This is no different to politicians attempting to further their careers by hosting so-called dinners at several hundred dollars a plate.  The tickets for such dinners far exceed the cost of tickets to sporting events, yet no one seems to protest the fact that politicians are in effect attempting to buy their votes.

Moreover, how do you stand for a national anthem which you may believe in your heart of hearts no longer has the meaning it originally intended?  An anthem which speaks of freedom and justice for all can have little to no meaning for those whose freedoms are denied, let alone those who have not received justice from either the legal system or police enforcement.

 

It was Voltaire who said, “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”

He also said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

Perhaps we should keep Voltaire’s statement in mind before we judge so harshly those who may disagree with our points of view, lest we suffer the greatest fate of all – REPEATING HISTORY’S MISTAKES.

https://ca.yahoo.com/sports/ravens-anthem-singer-resigns-fan-reaction-player-protests-223648999.html

 

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Pot Pourri

A few things I simply have to get off my chest:

  1. We all have to work for a living, and most of us don’t get paid for what we really love.  Seek it out in your spare time anyway.  Your older self will thank you for doing so in the future.
  2. The older we are, the faster we used to run.  This applies mostly to politics, and lately, mostly in Alberta.  In 2015, we overwhelmingly voted out the Progressive Conservatives after 41 years of “leadership” which was tenuous at best, and decided to give the New Democrat Party a whirl.  Before the NDP even has a chance to dust off the furniture, the conservative right wingers are crying for their precious PC’s back.  Here’s a newsflash: they had 41 years and you – YOU – voted them out in favour of some fresh air.  Give the NDP a chance to get going before you start crying for your familiar, albeit abusive, political parent to come back and love you.  Second newsflash: you don’t get that high in politics without stepping on a lot of people on the way up.  Deal with it.
  3. Same goes for the Harper v. Trudeau camp.
  4. For the over-leveraged oil slingers:  Try counting your money while holding your breath.  The recession you believe is happening to you right now is only personal.  You over-spent, over-leveraged and over-extended yourselves.  It’s time to answer for it.  The economy is not suffering so much as it is simply taking a break.  The skyrocketing value of everything could not sustain itself longterm and we are now only in what is actually a NORMAL economy.  The fact that you are giving up your family pets before you give up your smokes or 60-inch TV’s is on you, not the government.
  5. If, despite Number 4 above, you wish to continue spouting off about this “recession” in Alberta, being “worse than the 80’s”, please make sure that (a) you were alive and cognizant enough to understand the economy in the 1980’s, and (b) please have a look outside your windows and tell me what all those cranes dotting our skyline are doing.
  6. Just because you’ve given birth to a child, does not automatically mean that you are EVERYONE’S mother.  I have a mother, and you don’t hold a candle to her so stop trying.
  7. Also, women who don’t have children made as conscious a choice as those who did.  Respect both.
  8. The weather since Inauguration Day has been unseasonably warm in parts of Canada.  Hot air rises.  Coincidence?  I think not.  It also furthers the claim by realists that climate change is not, in fact, a “hoax”.
  9. It IS possible to sustain an economy without gang-raping the environment.  Our demand for oil, plastics and the like will not diminish.  However, we can do so more responsibly and slow the pace of our gluttonous consumption.  The answers are so simple an 8 year old could explain them to you.  I know just such an 8 year old girl who would love to speak to you, and likely shame you into submission in the process.
  10. It’s also possible to drive a 1994 Ford Bronco and get better gas mileage and have fewer emissions than many new vehicles being churned out today.  Regular maintenance and responsible disposal of oils and parts is key.  Don’t buy new when you can keep what you have running.
  11. Stop glorifying being “busy”.  You’re not busy.  And no one cares.  You’re just over-extending yourselves and one day you’ll wake up dead wondering why you bothered.  It’s okay to take a break and do sweet f**k all.
  12. And lastly, ADOPT SHELTER PETS.

It’s not rocket science, people.

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The Blame Game

Disclaimer: I’m no political pundit by any stretch of the imagination.  But I’ve got eyes and a fairly decent brain.  So bear with me.

For those of you unfamiliar with Canadian or Albertan politics, the current government in Alberta is the New Democratic Party, or NDP for short.  They were elected in last year by a majority vote of unprecedented and some would say, epic proportions and their election meant that the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party had been ousted after 40-plus years of power over Alberta.

Like any establishment after such a long reign, it could easily be argued that the PC’s were far too comfortable in Alberta having been able to maintain their political position more than four decades.  Some might even venture to say that they became complacent.  Lackadaisical, even.  I have lived in Alberta for nearly three of those four decades and in that time I have seen the ups and downs of their government.  Some good, a lot of bad, and mostly a lot of in-between.  Like any political party, they relied heavily on contributions from Big Business supporters, in Alberta’s case this is largely oil companies with a lot of clout and financial ability to buy the party which fits their agenda the best.

The trouble is that with such a long-standing relationship between a political party and its Big Oil backers, you lose sight of the ones who are in reality backing both.  The middle class not only votes in the people they feel are best suited to lead their provincial or federal governments, but also consumes the goods produced by Big Business and Big Oil.

Yes, it’s true that the PC Party was great at bringing in business and creating jobs, much of those jobs with the oil companies backing the party.  But ask yourselves this: at what cost?  We were all blinded at the prospect of a booming economy that we lost sight of the fact that the middle class was being stretched far too thin by their support of ridiculously large corporate tax breaks.  Much like an aging elastic band stretched beyond its capacity, it will start to show cracks and eventually break altogether.  Relying on one segment of the voting and tax-paying public to support not only the over-privileged rich and corporations, but also to support the social programs necessary to assist and raise up the lower income classes proved to be too much for most of us.

I believe this collapse primarily among the middle class was the impetus for such a landslide vote for a different party to have their kick at the political can.  After more than four decades ruling this province, the breaks promised to the middle class were rarely, if ever, delivered.  And many of us were far too jaded by then to think much of the small pittances promised regardless.

Worse, when then-premier Jim Prentice realised he’d lost the vote to continue, his outgoing speech was nothing less than childish and immature.  He pouted and walked off stage without so much as the grace to wish the incoming premier, NDP Rachel Notley, luck in her new endeavour in leading our province.

To many, this was classic Progressive Conservatism – they didn’t get their way and like any bully, they were unaccustomed to being shot down.

Now, this is not to say that I am naïve enough to think that the NDP (or Liberal, or any other) Party would have behaved any differently had the same thing happened to them had they been privileged enough to have retained power for that length of time.  What I am saying is that the game has changed and if you want to stay in it, you have to adapt to new rules and parameters.  The Old Boys who voted you in four decades ago are now dying off, figuratively and literally.  Your voters are younger but not necessarily less informed.  What’s more, they want different things than their parents and grandparents.

Further, regardless of who won the election, there would still be the same messes to clean up after having the same party in for the last four decades.  If we are, as we all claim to be, open-minded and progressive, should we not then by definition have the grace to allow the current government some time to get their footing and to deliver on their promises which got them elected?  Isn’t that the democratic process?  And yet, as soon as the NDP gained the provincial seat, the naysayers were already at it – claiming that things were better when the PC’s were running the show.

Remember, the older we are, the faster we used to run.  Sometimes you have to embrace change, if you want actual change to occur.

Besides, if you wanted so badly for the PC’s to stay in power, why didn’t you vote them back in when you had the chance?

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Black Friday versus White Christmas

As we all speed toward Christmas and the end of yet another year, it is easy to become mired down in the stresses placed upon ourselves and those which trickle down from outside sources such as work and general day to day life. It is evident that for some, Christmas is a competition. We seemingly have to put up the best house decorations or at least better than we did the year before. Parents often seem to want to outdo themselves by going bigger and better with respect to buying gifts for their children, thus perpetuating Christmas as a materialistic and wholly monetary holiday (and setting a dangerous example for their children in the process), trivialised to the same degree as Valentine’s Day or Halloween, both of which also lost their true meanings decades ago.

Every single Christmas story we have ever heard attempts to teach us that the love and joy of Christmas should follow us throughout the year. It’s also a time to pay special remembrance to those we have lost, and to find comfort and gratitude for those we still have with us.

Yet, with Black Friday it’s a mad rush to the malls, shopping centres and online shopping sites as we all attempt to find the most bang for our bucks as we descend upon Christmas as if it was a finish line, rather than a new beginning.

I offer the following suggestions to help ease your self-imposed obligations and financial commitments:

Dare I say it aloud, each year my own Christmas list gets smaller. Before you start calling me ‘Scrooge’ or ‘Grinch’ (both of whom, I remind you, were redeemed at the ends of their respective tales), let me clarify that this is not out of dwindling numbers of family and friends, but more of an understanding that the people in my life are fortunate enough to have every material item they could possibly need, without me adding to the pile of unused or unwanted items which are likely to cost the recipients more time and aggravation in having to return the things I bought for them, in exchange for something more suited to their tastes.

The majority of my friends and I have agreed that we would rather go out for drinks, dinners or movies with each other instead of buying gifts since many of us aren’t able to spend enough time together as it is.

Gift cards are also a great option because it gives the receivers a chance to buy something they have likely been saving for themselves. What could be better than giving your friend or family member a little help in the direction they were going to go anyway?  With the advent of technology, many stores offer online gift cards which can be used for in-store or online purchases, thus saving you and your recipient time which might otherwise be spent traversing shopping centres.

Gifts also need not be expensive, but they should be thoughtful. I recently saw a video online of a girl receiving a long-lost teddy bear from her boyfriend. He obviously spent more time than money finding the bear, but the joy of being reunited with her erstwhile friend was immeasurable and demonstrated the boyfriend’s affection for his girlfriend in a most poignant and meaningful way.

I also favour tributary gifts such as donations to a charity in the name of the person for whom I might otherwise purchase a gift. Giving to a cause someone else cares about shows your support of their own giving natures. Oftentimes, these charities will send not only a notification to the recipient that a donation has been made in their name, but they’ll also receive a token item illustrating the gift as in the case of World Wildlife Fund’s animal adoption kits. These can generally be purchased online and you can arrange for the notification and gift to be sent directly to the recipient, leaving you more time to relax at home with the ones you love, saving you time, stress and hopefully some money along the way. Particularly with children, tributary gifts are a great way of teaching kids how to empathise and care for the world which they will inherit from us.

And so I would pitch to you the theme that is perpetuated in every single Christmas lesson we’ve ever heard: To spend time, not money, on those who are dear to you. To be thankful and appreciative of what you already have, and to remember those who have passed from your lives but not your hearts. And to ALWAYS remember that love transcends ALL imagined boundaries of race, religion and species.

Merry Christmas.

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Rock Stars Standing Up

Credit www.chathamdailynews.ca

Bono meeting with Canadian NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair – Photo credit to http://www.chathamdailynews.ca

The job or mission of Rock n’ Roll from its inception has been to shake things up; to make people think; reconsider; and make the established rules and norms of society wholly uncomfortable.

As a band, U2 has long been at the forefront of this crusade – their music is rebellious, provocative and compelling.  In the band’s early days, they received a lot of criticism for their lyrics being too preachy, too political.  More notably, their critics often complained that while the band’s lyrics were preachy and political, the band, said the critics, should take a more active role in ending the stories of injustice which were being referred to in their songs and at their concerts.

So, taking this to heart, Bono as well as other members of the band, have in fact taken a much more active role in not just singing about their charitable causes, but also becoming members of those causes and forming organizations to help their causes along.

In that sense, they are not unlike any other special interest group on the planet, whether a charitable organization or a multi-trillion dollar corporation, all of which beg at the chance of bending a politician’s ear in an effort to gain support for their respective causes.

While no one bats an eye when a corporation or charity gains an audience with political leaders, the same is not true when it is a celebrity.  People often say that the celebrities should stick to their platforms of choice when it comes to political maneuvering, that they ought to restrict those beliefs and causes to the stage or screen from whence they came.  And yet, if they did – as critics of U2 in the past have proven – when they don’t become more involved, they are also maligned for their inactivity and supposed lack of conviction.

But, how is one to gain support for causes if not to gain the support of those who can effect real change and enact policies to promote that change?

I suggest that it is not the fact that it is Bono bending the ears of Canadian political leaders Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau which makes people uncomfortable.  What makes people uncomfortable is you have a rock star who can hold his own with politicians and who can speak informatively and candidly on the subjects compelling him to request their audience in the first place.  Moreover, it makes people even more uncomfortable that someone like Bono has evolved far beyond the white flag-wielding lad he was in the early to mid-1980s and has grown into not only a musical but cultural icon with a noble agenda – making the world a better place for all of us.

In other words, Bono is shaking things up, making people think, making us reconsider our priorities and forcing us to grow far past the confines of our comfortable little lives, which makes most of us very uncomfortable indeed.

And yet the people who SAY they want to eradicate social injustices and end world poverty and obtain peace in our time seem content to leave things up to politicians who are largely in the pockets of special interest groups like Big Oil and Big Business who have no one’s interest or welfare in mind other than their greedy own.

Our planet continues to suffer, our children continue to starve and die and wars continue with no visible end.

So, to Bono I would say, “Thanks, man and keep up the great work!”

To the rest of the doubters, haters and critics, I would ask, “So, what’s YOUR idea?”

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Taber Havering.

Taber Corn Sign. Believe it or not, this is an upgrade from the old signs.

Taber Corn Sign.
Believe it or not, this is an upgrade from the old signs.

Recently the Town of Taber, Alberta, came under fire for their bylaw which would ban, among other things, swearing in public and spitting. There’s also mention of a curfew for kids and teenagers between the hours of 11 PM and 6 AM.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/taber-bylaw-bans-public-swearing-spitting-and-yelling-in-alberta-town-1.2988992

Predictably, there’s also been a lot of backlash from people spewing forth words like, “Unconstitutional!”

There may be some merit to this argument but one also has to wonder what prompted the enactment of this bylaw in the first place. Truth be told, the bylaw has likely always been in effect, but rarely enforced, as it is in most Canadian towns and cities.

Which leads us to believe that perhaps the problem has recently become so epidemic that the Town of Taber decided to actually start enforcing this bylaw. And what, pray tell, might have precipitated that decision?

I work in downtown Edmonton where it seems to be perfectly acceptable to some to spit on our sidewalks. Most of the perpetrators are males who seemingly have such an abundance of saliva in their mouths that they feel a need to share it with the rest of us. I wish I could tell you this sort of thing happens only out of doors, but sadly, it does not. I have seen them do it inside the shopping centres and parkades as well. However, not one of them has considered that perhaps I would prefer not to have to walk behind or unwittingly through their gobs of spit on the ground. I also wonder what their own homes look like. And I would also prefer not to have to consider waterproof footwear just to accommodate my walk to my workplace every day. Since I happen to love my beautiful city, I would also prefer that people don’t spit (or worse) on it.

As for swearing…there is a time and place for everything. Perhaps sitting on a bus in the midst of other commuters swearing pointless and loud profanities in that tight closed space is not the place. Just ask the young man who was recently charged with this “crime” in Edmonton as he decided to spew his verbal diarrhea onto the other passengers.

Again, I wonder what their homes are like – do they randomly spew obscenities while watching TV with their loved ones, do they wake up their children in the middle of the night by yelling loudly at them to ensure they receive their daily dose of obnoxious behaviour? There’s swearing at a hockey game with your like-minded buddies who are equally disappointed and frustrated with the performance of their favourite team, the Calgary Flames. But imagine sitting in a boardroom when your lawyer suddenly shouts a few creative and derogatory oaths in your direction as he’s attempting to explain your legal obligations under an Asset Purchase Agreement.

Obviously, I’m being facetious. But I would wager the town council of Taber has likely received a number of complaints from its residents regarding these issues and it’s likely taken longer than most of us realize for the Town of Taber to begin enforcing these bylaws simply by virtue of the bureaucratic process.

Which is ironic, considering it’s the town’s citizens raising their children who are asking the town council to protect them from themselves. Maybe if those same parents had oh, I don’t know, not raised their children up to be spitting, swearing little brats and instituted their own curfews, perhaps then the Town of Taber could instead busy itself worrying about more critical issues like who was going to keep making those “Taber Corn” signs which pop up on our roadways every summer.

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Our new single!

Check out Unsung Lilly’s new single!

The Unsung Lilly Blog

We promised we would be releasing a new song, and ITS HERE! Hope you enjoy this… this is a little taster to a new sound that we’ve been experimenting with. First off we wanted to release a cover…and there are new original songs coming soon. We decided to record our own version of ‘Chandelier’ by Sia. We both felt like this was one of our favourite songs of last year, and we’ve been big fans of Sia for years, so we wanted to do pay tribute to it (and her!).

We hope you enjoy this! Between the two of us, we arranged it, produced it, played every instrument (OK, Frankie played most of them!!!), shot/directed/edited the video (that was mostly Sera!)….and the very lovely legendary producer (and friend of ours) Keith Parry mixed the audio for us (he rocks!!! Big time!!)

Soooo….here’s the video…. and if you like it, you can

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Things I learned from Leonard Nimoy and Star Trek.

Growing up in a house in the early 70s with 2 older brothers and only 1 TV, it is not surprising that I ended up watching a lot of Star Trek. At first, it was a great way to bond with my brothers, being the annoying baby sister by several years, but then I grew to better understand the stories and the valuable lessons they were trying to impart, to name a few:

  • How to resolve conflict amicably and to the benefit of each of the contrasting parties.
  • How to not interfere with the normal working order of a civilisation or natural environment and to limit as much as possible your impact when you must intervene.
  • How to overcome prejudice between races, as well as between species and nations.
  • That keeping your word and your promises is more meaningful than you will ever realise.
  • Why it is always best to stand by those who stand by you.
  • That peace IS possible and well worth the struggle to find it.
  • To value friendship as one of the most noble human virtues.
  • That logic is only the beginning of true wisdom.

With Leonard Nimoy’s passing today, I cannot help but feel that a large part of my childhood was lost, but thankfully not forgotten. Without people like Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner and the rest of the cast of Star Trek to embody these virtues, I may not have learned these lessons soon enough, nor been able to put them into proper context. Certainly I would have learned some of these values from my siblings and parents, but children often relate much easier to colourful characters in books and theatre than they do adults who seem to be constantly telling them what to do.

Shows like Star Trek implanted the seed of hope in many of us.  The hope that our world could be better, if we all worked together.  The hope that peace was and is indeed possible.  The hope that racial tensions in the future would be a thing of the very distant past.

Think what we might have learned if we only had shows like “Big Brother” and “The Real Housewives of Wherever” on which to rely.  Oh, wait…that’s happening to the newest generation, isn’t it?

To all the past and present cast, crew and writers of Star Trek, I wish only one thing:

Live long and prosper, no matter where you have boldly gone knowing you made a profound difference in a little girl’s outlook on the world.

Leonard Nimoy as Spock 1913 - 2015

Leonard Nimoy as Spock
1913 – 2015

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EXCITING NEWS: ‘BE’ Album Release

I can’t wait for this album to be released – a positive and great message to share!

The Unsung Lilly Blog

Be - Unsung Lilly - front cover

Hello to our lovely blog readers, friends and fans

Well…we have some news! Finally, after a long wait, our debut album BE has been released onto iTunes, Spotify, and all other digital retail stores. You can buy it here now:
Yes…we admit, its been some time coming, given that we recorded the album back in the Summer of 2013!! Those of you who have been following us long enough, will remember that we released the album via Pledge Music initially, and then via our website and sales at gigs, but it has never made it to world wide distribution until now.
So why now?! Well, good question! Things have definitely been a bit crazy for us over the last year – what with band line-up changes, crossing that rather large pond and heading over to Los Angeles, and a lot of different advice from various different industry people…

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The Lost Art of Saying No

Saying ‘no’ to anything or anyone in this day and age of widespread materialism and instant gratification is a lost art. And yet, so many of us would be far less stressed and much happier if we could just implement that one little word into our daily vocabulary. It is, after all, one of if not the very first word we learn as children, right behind “mama” and “papa.”

As I write this, I have a specific situation in mind. There are three players in my viewpoint, an aged mother in her 80’s, a daughter in her 50’s and a granddaughter in her 20’s. The 50-something daughter is the heart of the matter in that she is addicted to medications and will take whatever the doctors will give her for her mostly imagined symptoms for mostly imagined and creatively-named illnesses. This person, naturally, has found enablers in her mother and daughter who have been conned into doing everything for her, including cleaning the house in which she spends all day, cooking her food, administering her medications, attending to her errands and obligations, etc. All while the daughter expresses no appreciation at their hard work and sacrifice, and continues to demand even more from them, which so far they have obligingly provided at great cost to themselves and their own families.

One has to think that this person has grown accustomed to having others at her beck and call, and has never learned to appreciate the time and effort it takes to care for herself since she’s never had to do it. Neither, apparently, has she ever been forced to show any gratitude or reciprocated the kindness of others.

And as every intervention will demonstrate, the first part of anyone’s recovery from their addictions or demons, is removing the safety nets of the offenders. Stop saying “Yes,” stop giving them your money and time, stop letting them take everything from you. In other words, force them to survive on their own, and stepping in only when their behaviour shows more positive signs of their own effort to become better people.

I could recite countless other situations my friends and acquaintances have shared with me, detailing their frustrations at being taken advantage of by ingrates and reprobates.
All the while, I can’t help but think if these people had set a precedent at saying ‘No’ earlier on, perhaps the abusers would be stopped in their tracks, or at least their path of emotional destruction would have been impeded.

Naturally, no parent wants to deny their child anything but sometimes there are valuable lessons to be taught and learned by saying no to your children. You teach them that the world will not always bow to their whims, that they shouldn’t expect other people to always give in and that the time of others is something to be appreciated like any other valuable commodity.

In my own experience, learning to say “No” has resulted in only good things. I have managed to eliminate certain draining people from my life because the minute they realised this particular well had run dry, they stopped calling on me (though undoubtedly they went off in search of other victims, and likely found them). In return, my free time was now freed up to spend on things I wanted to do which in turn nurtured my own soul and made me a better and more productive member of my own family, freeing up time and energy better spent on those who truly matter.

Saying ‘no’ will not only save you from doing things you sincerely do not want to do, but will also send a clear message to others that you know how to stand up for yourself and that your time is equally valuable. It’s really that simple. Give it a shot.

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