Hallelujah – Justin Timberlake & Matt Morris

Posted in About nothing really, Inspirational, Spiritual on 6 November 2010 by spitztengle

A lot of people have covered this Leonard Cohen classic. Jeff Buckley and k.d. lang have to be two of my most favorite renditions, but this one certainly ranks among them. It’s a beautiful beautiful song, and one that actually resonates with me more right now than perhaps at other times in my life.


err, rather … Dig It!


Gandhian Engineering: Providing for every person’s need, not every person’s greed

Posted in Inspirational, Just Something to Think About on 5 November 2010 by spitztengle

As with many of these TED Talks, I wish I could pull out some highlights and deliver some powerful information in even less time than the already short talks being given. In this one, at the end (around the 18 minute mark), is where Mashelkar talks about “convex lens leadership.” The thing about parallel lines is that they never meet. What a convex lens does is focus those lines. And when focused, incredible work can be achieved.

Theme of this talk is More For Less For More (translated: much greater performance that is super-affordable so that many many many can benefit). Providing for everyone’s needs through compassionate innovation.

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Soft Power, Smart Power, and Global Power Shifts

Posted in Academic, Contemporary in context, Just Something to Think About, Political on 31 October 2010 by spitztengle

Watch this and learn more about global power (military, economic, ideological) politics in 18 minutes and 16 seconds than reading one hundred books.

We’ve Only Just Started Inventing Things

Posted in Inspirational, Just Something to Think About, Political on 29 October 2010 by spitztengle

Long May You Run: The legacy of Terry Fox lives on

Posted in Inspirational with tags , , , on 17 September 2010 by spitztengle

It was 30 years ago this month that Terry Fox had to end his own Marathon of Hope. This Sunday it carries on. If you have the opportunity, I do encourage you to get out and take part in this event. Even thirty years after the fact, Terry Fox still resonates strongly with many Canadians–young and old. His inspiration from back then should speak louder than ever though. According to 2009 statistics 40-45% of Canadians will succumb to cancer in their lifetimes. In Terry’s own words, “Somewhere, the hurting must stop.” He took himself to the limits to do what he could do. Now it’s our turn. The Run must go on. We can find a way to turn these stats in the other direction. Terry believed it. If we all do our part, we can make the marathon more like a walk in the park.

Terry Fox served as an inspiration to generations of Canadians now. Let’s not let his dream die. Rise to this challenge and let’s keep hope alive. Paraphrasing Rod Stewart lyrics from his song inspired by you, Terry:

It’ll take a long, long time for us to fill your shoes. It’ll take somebody who’s a lot like you who will never give up on a dream.

Thirty years and counting, the dream lives on.

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Edmonton: The City of (Second) Chances

Posted in About nothing really, Contemporary Flashpoint, Contemporary in context with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14 September 2010 by spitztengle

Considering that Edmonton’s professional sports franchises haven’t exactly lived up to the City of Champions moniker that greets visitors at city limits for the last few years, perhaps City of Second Chances can be a suitable substitute until the Oilers and Eskimos are back to their storied winning ways.

Today, the Edmonton Eskimo Football Club announced the hiring of Eric Tillman as their general manager. Clearly, the complications of this hiring have been considered by the Eskimo organization. As soon as Tillman’s name was floated as a possible candidate, the divisiveness of him in this roll became evident. I can only imagine the number of calls the Eskimo office fielded over the past couple of days. I don’t have any official capacity with the Double E, yet my phone and facebook has been bombarded with requests to know my take on the situation. Typically, I’m not one to reserve judgment. But I have found myself dancing a bit more delicately around this one than giving hard answers. In that vein, I’ll table this:

MacTavish’s character helped him get through the most distressing time of his life, which came after he was drinking at a bar on Jan. 29, 1984, then drove home, colliding with another car on his way, killing that car’s driver, 26-year-old Kim Radley. At the time MacTavish had moved up from the college ranks and was a promising 26-year-old forward on the Boston Bruins. He pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and spent a full year in jail, the first few months in a small cell with a pail for a toilet.

The Oilers were the first of four teams to approach him in jail about resuming his NHL career, and Boston let him go without compensation so he could start his life again in a new setting. MacTavish paid for his crime, not only by doing time, but by speaking at numerous schools about the dangers of drunk driving and by serving as the honorary chairman of Edmonton’s CheckStop anti-drunk-driving program. He also forged a bond with Kim Radley’s parents, Ron and Hazel Foote. They visited MacTavish in jail and forgave him for his crime. Out of this visit came a relationship that has lasted to this day, with Hazel still sending a card to MacTavish on his birthday.

“I have a great deal of respect for Craig MacTavish,” she says. “He was a young man who made a tragic mistake and was extremely sorry for it. I regard him very highly.” (Staples, 2007)

I can’t help but draw some pretty close parallels between the Tillman and MacTavish cases. Like MacTavish, “it is worth noting that the victims publicly forgave Tillman” (Vanstone, 2010). Likewise, the Saskatchewan judge gave him an absolute discharge—Tillman does not have a criminal record despite his guilty plea to the charges of sexual assault. And as Vanstone, et al point out, he’s paid a price. The public scrutiny isn’t done yet either. Eskimo CEO Rick LeLacheur has made it clear that this is a second chance—there will be no third. So in the end, what do I think? Yeah, I think he deserves a second chance.

Of course I’m hopeful that he will repeat what he’s done in three other CFL cities, and brings the Grey Cup back to Edmonton. Obviously, I hope that he does not repeat what happened in Regina. Honestly, I can’t see him being alone in a room with a babysitter again. One-plus-one supervision is becoming standard practice in many environments where men may be around girls (e.g., high school coaches). And I also do see a real opportunity for Tillman to become a spokesperson for this issue, much like MacTavish is celebrated for doing with anti-drunk-driving campaigns. Who knows? Maybe we can be a city of champions in more ways than one? I know I’m not alone in thinking we can.

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PM Harper opens door to stadium funding

Posted in Academic, Contemporary Flashpoint, Contemporary in context, Political on 9 September 2010 by spitztengle

PM Harper opens door to stadium funding.

Look, everyone knows I'm a big sports enthusiast.

You know, I’m not going to say that my life hasn’t been richer from the countless experiences I’ve had in Commonwealth Stadium. Which, as the host venue for the 1978 Commonwealth Games, was largely funded by federal money. So don’t get me wrong, I think there is a meaningful place for these types of venues in every city.

But at what cost? I’m not a fan of Stelmach. But he’s made a good point. When we’re so far behind in infrastructure development and upgrades for other important public services (schools, hospitals, public transit, etc.), how can we justify spending tax-payer dollars on these kinds of things?

A sociologist’s (cultural critic) responsibility is to show how this is a public issue, not just a personal opinion. In my lecture for tomorrow on the social significance of sport, I actually talk about what Bruce Kidd calls “the cathedrals of the modern word.” I’m using Cowboys, Durban, University of Phoenix, and Commonwealth stadia as just a handful of examples, Commonwealth being the most dated. My intent is not to glorify these existing venues, it is to contextualize how meaningful sport (and its concomitant venues) are to us in society. The fact that our Prime Minister and Premiers are talking about this in headline news validates that fact. Honestly, I don’t have a well-rehearsed answer to whether or not this is a good thing. But my gut tells me this: until we, in a critical mass, can come together and direct our energies towards how our public money should be spent, it won’t surprise me if new arenas and stadia are built in short order. Sadly, the lobby groups crying for new venues are getting their voices heard more readily than those calling for other, likely more important infrastructure projects. Furthermore, the Quebec arena push has also tugged on our almost timeless French-English tensions (also East-West).

If I do read the article correctly though (and to be clear, I’m not defending Harper on this one), the Prime Minister did not say that Quebec City would be getting any funding. He simply said that in the event of Quebec City actually receiving funds, his government would then also have to extend that same funding to other cities with similar requests. In the end, this is a story about “the possibility” of funding for sporting venues. So sure, the door is now open. That doesn’t mean our public coffers are—at least not yet.