I love the brushes in Gimp Paint Studio.
Here it finally is! The Long Run is now available at Lulu.com.
Jamie Simons has achieved his life-long goal of wearing the Yellow Jersey. But he has come to realize that the glamourous world of professional cycling has a seedy underbelly. When forced to choose between the truth and winning, Jamie’s choice leaves him spiraling downhill fast. In his exciting debut novel, Trevor Morgan brings us a story of competition, conflict, transformation and hope, in a book that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the world of Endurance Sport.
So yeah, if you’re wondering what happens when an up-and-coming professional cyclists encounters the reality of team politics, intrigue and doping, go buy this book!
On Wednesday I received a letter from the school board informing me that our local elementary school would be closed due to ‘a day of political protest.’ (The Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario clearly decided not to call it a ‘strike’, because they know they are no longer in a legal strike position.) Yesterday, I received a phone call reiterating that the school would be closed.
After making alternative plans for my children for today, I found out mid-morning that the schools ARE in fact open. The Ontario Labour Relations Board has confirmed that ETFO’s actions were illegal, and the union was instructing its members to break the law. The school board has announced that the schools are open, and apologized for the short notice, noting that the timing was beyond the school board’s control.
I am, at this point, disgusted by the actions of ETFO. My children are fortunate enough to be taught by some incredibly motivated, engaging and talented teachers. I have seen them time and time again demonstrate a devotion to their calling, and a passion for equipping the next generation of Canadians for adulthood. And so I am deeply frustrated when they are ordered by their union to refrain from doing their jobs, and fulfilling the calling to which they have dedicated their lives.
The person directly responsible for this is Sam Hammond, the president of ETFO. He claims that the union is ‘standing up for democratic values’. And yet he is encouraging teachers to directly break a law that was decided upon by a democratically elected, representative government and confirmed by an independent judiciary.
The mechanisms of democracy in Canada are still in place and functioning correctly. Mr Hammond, though, is not presenting a role model to our children of a respectful, responsible citizen.
A critical element of a functional democracy is an informed electorate. It is one of the most important checks against rampant corruption and abuse. Intelligent, well informed voters can ensure that checks and balances are put on government actions, and that the profits that arise from the sale of the country’s resources are spent on improving the lives of citizens.
So if you happened to be a corrupt politician, benefiting from bribes and kickbacks, you would have a strong desire to keep the populace uninformed. Now, in the past this was easier to do. You could, for example, mandate that only state approved information sources were to be used. Citizens are only allowed to read the ‘Banana Republic Daily.’ Perhaps you would fire teachers and close down schools in an attempt to keep the population illiterate. Or maybe you would put restrictions on travel to prevent the spreading of ideas.
Today, though, in the age of the internet and free information, it is much harder to stop people from learning, discussing, and sharing ideas. So what alternative does the poor corrupt politician have?
One obvious idea presents itself. If you can’t stop the populace from consuming information, then maybe the next best step is to pre-emptively stuff them with false, misleading, or simply useless data. Keep their brains occupied with the trivial, the meaningless, or the politically convenient. Better yet, try to scare them off of sources of information that have not been vetted. Teach them to be afraid of ideas that come from outside the country, that come from other political groups, that come from rigorous, peer-reviewed, reproducible research.
What would you end up with? A country that was deeply distrustful of foreigners, of intellectuals and of political opponents, but very well informed perhaps about local sports franchises, television dramas and the lives of non-political celebrities.
Fortunately, I can’t think of any places like that.
I talk about reconciliation quite a lot. I’m convinced that it’s one of the concepts at the heart of the Christian faith. But today I found out about some folks that are actually getting on with the hard work of reconciliation.
The Parent’s Circle is a joint Palestinian Israeli organization of over 600 families, all of whom have lost a close family member as a result of the prolonged conflict.
I am inspired to see Palestinians and Israelis who have every reason to resent, distrust and hate each other, sitting down together and working towards peace.
Take some time to read their stories, such as this one from an Israeli who lost family members in a rocket attack and later had the chance to meet Yassar Arafat, the Palestinian leader who signed the order authorizing the attack.
We need more people like this. People who can come out of a tragedy and go beyond assigning blame and calling for revenge. People who can concretely work towards peace and reconciliation.
One thing I have hugely appreciated about having children in the Ontario public school system is their commitment to character education. Integrity, respect, cooperation and responsibility are not merely buzzwords but are taught, modelled and reinforced at every opportunity. Which causes me to run into difficulty when trying to explain the current labour dispute to my children.
Students in Simcoe county schools are encouraged to demonstrate these character traits: Integrity, responsibility, cooperation, caring, respect, optimism, honesty, empathy, courage and inclusiveness. In general, I have seen that the staff at our local school have genuinely modelled these traits as well as taught them.
However, I do not feel that I can say the same thing about the education ministry or the teacher’s unions. When Lauren Broten, the education minister, unilaterally imposes an agreement on the province’s schoolteachers, this is not an act of cooperation. When Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario accuses the government of ‘disgraceful misuses of power’, he is not demonstrating respect.
When unions call on teachers to withdraw from all extra-curricular activities, this cannot be understood as being a caring act towards our children. And when all parties talk past each other and accuse each other of being disingenuous, they are not displaying the character trait of honesty.
I would like to be able to tell my children that the teachers, their unions, and the government sat down together in an atmosphere of cooperation and respect, that they listened to each other with empathy. That they honestly and courageously looked at the very real financial constraints the education system is dealing with, and figured out how best to provide a caring and inclusive education system for all of our students. And that they then went forward with optimism to implement their ideas.
But at the moment, I unfortunately cannot.
We drove to Colorado for Christmas. I’ve never driven across the Midwest before – it was awe-inspiring for this Englishman to see just how BIG this continent is!