For the past 36 hours, the Canadian media has been in a frenzy over the confirmation that Justin Trudeau will run for leadership of the Liberal Party (well, at least “confirmed” by the CBC if not by Trudeau himself). Yesterday, the press was ecstatic, happily recalling fond memories of Trudeau’s charismatic father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who’s passion for politics created an Obama-level following throughout his 15 years as Prime Minister between 1968-1984. While beloved in the east and despised in the west, few can denounce the monumental impact Trudeau has had on the Canadian political landscape to this day. If being the son of a Canadian icon wasn’t enough, Justin Trudeau has amassed a strong following himself over the past decade that began with the much publicized eulogy he gave at his father’s funeral in 2000 and continued as he spoke to packed houses at numerous conventions and seminars until he made the inevitable decision to pursue a political career in 2007. As such, it was only natural that the media would so wildly obsess over this “pre-announcement announcement.”
Today, however, some of the news articles have taken a decidedly different tone. A small group of commentators have disapproved and criticized the media’s love, praise, and obsession with anything regarding Trudeau since the news broke yesterday. However, in all reality, Trudeau’s pursuit for leadership is the best thing that could happen to the Liberal Party for three significant reasons.
The first of these reasons has already become unmistakably apparent and is the source of the commentators’ criticism: media coverage. For better or worse, the country is interested in Justin Trudeau and has been for years (his 150,000 followers on Twitter says it all). While certain party leaders are still relatively unknown to the masses (do most Canadians really know who Thomas Mulcair, Daniel Paillé, and Bob Rae are?), everyone knows who Justin Trudeau is.
So why is this interest in Trudeau such an important factor for the Liberals? Well, the Liberal Party of Canada is coming off an election in which they only grabbed 19% of the popular vote. This is a far cry from their dominance in Canadian politics since confederation. Indeed, since 1968, when Trudeau Sr. first took office, the Liberals have been the leading party for 28 years, compared to 13 years for the Conservatives. Yet since 2004, the Liberals have suffered from extreme backlash following the sponsorship scandal, a slew of weak and unlikeable leaders (at least perceived as such by the Canadian public), and an identity crisis in which the party has failed to show the people what it is they stand for in the political scene. They never really had time to regain a solid footing. The party has been in complete disarray since the 2006 federal election, rushing through a variety of ill-conceived policies and hastily pushing new leaders into power, while skipping crucial steps along the way. Relying completely on their party’s history, rather than on forming a solid, unwavering platform, they were reduced to third party status for the first time in Canadian history. As such, the Liberals have been dismissed by many and there are few out there who are willing to pay attention to the under-the-hood changes they will have to make to rebuild themselves over the coming years.
However, with Justin Trudeau arriving on the scene, it’s a guarantee that Canadians will pay attention to what’s going on in the Liberal Party again. Step 1, complete.
The second reason that Trudeau’s candidacy for leadership bodes well for the party is that the Liberals may finally have a leader that resonates strongly with the Canadian public after two weak choices. Stéphane Dion was widely seen as an incapable leader, while Michael Ignatieff was severely disliked and deemed untrustworthy by the public. Trudeau brings a level of warmth, charm, and sincerity that makes him both incredibly relatable and likable. Regardless of your political affiliations, it’s hard not to like the guy from the brief encounters we’ve had with him on television and in the media. Furthermore, he brings a level of charisma that no politician currently working in Ottawa can match; a level of charisma that no politician has possessed since his father retired from office. The fact that he, at age 40, has had little experience in policy making or leadership of a large organization will be quickly dismissed. His charisma will lead the public to perceive him as being fully capable of the job at hand despite his inexperience. Perception is everything. Were the same accusations not made in 2008 about then Senator Barack Obama?
Let’s face it, the Liberals need a leader capable of generating buzz and excitement in and around the party. Once Trudeau wins the leadership race (and let’s all get real for a minute, he will win the leadership race), the Liberals will have effectively done just that.
As for the third and final reason that Trudeau’s name is of significant value to the party, it has, ironically, the least to do with Trudeau directly, but it is his name that will make it effective. The Liberal Party must build a solid platform that both creates a newness in its approach to government and rebrands itself as a solid, unwavering, and completely capable party of forming government. There can be no more wishy washy political games (ie: “we believe in a carbon tax, but we don’t believe in a carbon tax”) and no more overly reliant attitude towards their leader and political history. They must declare that they are the only real alternative to Harper and create a platform that can pull support from both the Conservative and NDP bases. If recent history is any indication, this could be an impossible task for the Liberals. However, the difference between this go-around and the previous attempts at rebranding themselves is that the Liberal Party has time to create a strong foundation. With Trudeau officially at the helm come April, there will be a full two years to concretely define their identity and sell themselves to the Canadian public before the next election.
That isn’t to say that it will be an easy road. Trudeau will likely be embraced in Quebec, Ontario, and the Maritimes, but will have his work cut out for him in the west. He will have to take careful consideration in how he markets himself and his party to disassociate himself just enough from his father that the west is willing to give him a chance (at least in urban cities, since it’s unlikely any party will ever make gains in the Conservative’s rural strongholds), while holding true to the social policies that will ensure support in the east.
However, without Trudeau and the media coverage he’ll provide, I doubt the Liberals will be able to overtake the NDP as the party capable of defeating the Conservatives. Polls over the summer suggest that the NDP and Conservatives are still in a statistical tie, with approximately 30-32% of the nation’s support. The Liberal Party needs Justin Trudeau to gain the public’s attention. For better or worse, he will be a political game changer. However, it is crucial that the Liberals take advantage of this increased media awareness in the coming months to show that they are a strong party, with a new and indispensable platform that Canadians can confidently support, and ultimately turn the fortunes of their crippling party back around. Trudeau is the best thing for the Liberals at this point, and the Liberals can’t afford to mess this up.
It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write a blog post. It’s not that there hasn’t been any topics I’ve wanted to write about (there have been many), but I just felt like this huge transition I’ve made in my life deserved recognition before I started writing about other areas.
For the past two years of my life, I have called Thailand home. I have explored much of southeast Asia, experienced an array of different cultures, and grown as a person in ways that I never expected I would. I’ve met extraordinary people and made life-long friends in the process. Simply put, it’s been the best two years of my life. So when it came time to pack up my apartment and fit two years of my life into two suitcases and move back to Canada, I found myself filled with fear, worry, and sadness over the fact that I would likely never live in Thailand again.
My life overseas has been a complete whirlwind. The first year brought challenges in its own right. Still a University student, I was teaching full-time for the year while taking University courses every evening. As any first year teacher will tell you, life is busy enough prepping a brand new lesson everyday while trying to differentiate your teaching style to meet the unique needs of each student without the added stress of daily coursework and classes. However, I and my fellow peers made it through the program and all went on to graduate with our degrees.
In addition to the huge workload, I saw Thailand as a means to an escape my first year. I was getting out of Canada at a time that I needed to and managed to discover the person that I always knew I was and wanted to be. Leaving the comfort of your family and country behind will do that to anyone. While I had made a decision not to return for a second year, I ultimately changed my mind when a new position was offered to me.
This past year, I felt challenged in ways that I never expected, and I recognized a strength within myself that I never knew I had. Within two weeks of landing in Thailand for the second time, I was tested with an onslaught of personal issues stemming from both my Canadian and Thai homes. As soon as I found some sense of resolution, another stress would creep its way into my life. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying this as all of us living and working together this past year faced many trying and difficult circumstances. It was the furthest thing from a normal year I could have expected, even by Thai standards.
We faced a nearly two-month long evacuation from Bangkok during the worst flood the city had seen in over 50 years. I was fortunate enough to have the means to get out of the city and spent that time on the islands of southern Thailand, away from the floodwaters. However the worries of how badly our area would flood and what the school would do in response certainly had a tolling effect on all of us during that time. Due to some unique circumstances, I returned to Bangkok towards the end of the flooding stage and experienced a week of living on a street that was knee-deep in water. Like those living in my neighbourhood, I stocked up on drinking water and noodles to keep myself hydrated and fed as most other supplies were hard to come by. Throughout it all, I was greatly inspired by the Thai people’s ability to cope throughout these trying circumstances with the biggest smiles on their faces, just like every other day.
From there, the flood and cancellation of nearly six weeks of school led us into a situation where we were working extended days, including Saturdays in an attempt to make up for lost time before the end of the year. Exhaustion was the name of the game. During this time, we also experienced the loss of a fellow teacher in a traffic accident. I’ve spoken about this before and would rather not write about it again, but it nearly pushed me, and all of us, to a breaking point.
It was a year unlike anything I could have expected, with challenges piling on with every passing day. But it has absolutely had a resounding impact on my career, my being, and my life. Throughout it all, I, and all of us really, pulled through it. We survived. There were days when it felt like it was just impossible to keep going, but with each other to lean on, we found the strength in ourselves to persevere. I had no idea that my own self was capable of handling so much at once. Certainly I never hope to experience the stresses of a year like this past one again, but it has renewed my sense of self and shown me that I am capable of dealing with more than I ever thought I could.
This year has also reaffirmed my choice to become a teacher. I can safely say that I absolutely, positively, unequivocally love what I do! As our six-day work weeks went on, I couldn’t help but wonder how horrible it would be if I didn’t enjoy my job. I had a wonderful grade 4 class this year. Every day, one of my students would do or say something that would put the biggest smile on my face and make me love my work a little bit more. Teaching is a big job, and there’s certainly never a moment when I feel like I’m “finished,” but it makes me happy, gives me a sense of purpose, and inspires me every day to do better. The students I’ve taught over the past two years were the first I had as a full-time teacher and I’ll never forget them.
My students are just one of many things that had to stay behind in Thailand now that I’ve come back to Canada. My time overseas included being immersed in the everyday antics of Thai culture. Everything in Thailand is big, bright, flashy, and over-the-top – much more so than it ever would be in North America. For example, if you think Valentine’s Day is over-commercialized in the western world, it’s a mere fraction of what it’s like in Thailand with vendors lining the streets with roses, balloons, stickers, and cards, while bright red lights flash on every other stuffed bear you can find! There’s the giant water festival to celebrate the Thai New Year (Song Kran) where you literally spend five days fighting through crowds of people, throwing buckets of water at every random person you meet and wish them well. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or how you’re dressed, no one is immune from getting wet. Quite simply, it’s the best holiday ever! The people are some of the most friendly and inviting you’ll ever meet. Numerous times, I found myself trying to communicate with someone who spoke no English while I spoke what limited Thai I knew. He or she would do everything they could to make sure I was looked after and found what I needed – a trait that I think has been missing from Canada for quite some time.
It’s a beautiful country everywhere you go. Whether I was visiting the tiger temples in Chiang Mai, dancing on Koh Samet, trekking through the forests of Kao Yai, or relaxing on the most beautiful beaches in the world (Koh Lipe was my favourite), I found myself slowly, but surely, falling in love with Thailand.
It is a country that opened so many doors for me. I fell in love with the people, the culture, and the way of life. It has been so many things for me and shown me so much of myself. For better or worse, a part of me will always belong in Thailand. Yes, I will certainly go back and visit many times throughout my life, but visiting will never be the same as actually living there. Leaving it behind was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Yet, the experiences I had and the challenges I faced have forever changed who I am and how I will live my life. I’m leaving behind a world of greatness, but ahead of me is a life that I will experience more fully and completely because of what Thailand has taught me. For that, I will forever be grateful.
Sometimes, teachers have a bad day. We’re allowed to. Some days, our students are just chatty or we’re not on top of our game and our lack of focus causes a little classroom mayhem. It happens. Usually, we figure out where we went wrong, fix it, and things run much more smoothly the next day.
Then there are those situations where the problem goes on for much longer than a day. We fall into ruts and find ourselves dealing with the same behavioural problems for days, weeks, or even months on end. We might vent about these issues to other teachers, pointing out what the students are doing wrong and the frustrations we feel when they’re not as willing to learn as we are to teach them.
But in doing so, we forget one very important thing. Our students are still kids – and quite frankly, kids will be kids. They are still developing their ability to pick up on social cues and figuring out how they fit in with the world. While this is going on, they’re also being asked to spend most of their day within the confines of a four-wall room and sit in an uncomfortable desk. Wouldn’t you want to lean over and visit with your friends to? Even older students have yet to develop the ability to maintain self-control at all times. There is a reason for their misbehaviour: they could be bored, may not see the value in the lesson, might be tired, or would simply rather chat with their friends than pay attention.
The good news is that we are adults. We have the ability to look at the situation from a number of different points-of-view. We can put ourselves in our students’ shoes and see what our classroom might look like in their eyes. We are capable of assessing everything on a daily basis and coming up with solutions. We’re creative (obviously, we are teachers after all)! Sometimes, we get so caught up in all the things our students are doing wrong that we forget about all the ways we can create scenarios that allow them to do right. When things aren’t working, we’re the ones that have to make a change.
When things are going bad, it’s easy to raise our hands up in frustration and hold our students solely responsible for their poor behaviour. While it is important that they are held accountable for their actions, we also need to recognize what we’re doing wrong in the classroom that is allowing the misbehaviour to continue. When the same routine isn’t working, we’re the ones that need to change it so it works. We might have to change things a dozen times, but that’s what we signed up for when we got into this field. Our job is to educate future generations and it’s up to us to create an environment in which that is possible. We didn’t get the training we got in University for nothing.
So, the next time you find yourself back in that rut, fighting the same issues day after day (and it happens to all of us from time to time), remember that you’re the adult. Look at your classroom from the point-of-view of your students. Think of how you can improve the situation and test it out. It may take a few attempts, but something will eventually click and that’s when you can get back to doing what you love. Teaching!
It’s no secret that I have been fascinated with the story of the Titanic since I was 9 years old – a year before James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster was released. Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking and I found myself reflecting on its story at various points throughout the day. While I have no personal connection with the ship or any of its passengers, I find that the story continues to resonate deeply with the human condition and the climate of today’s economically-driven society. The sinking of the Titanic is, after all, so much more than just a ship lost at sea. It is a metaphor for the age in which it was built and our perceived superiority of nature.
Take a moment to think about it. This was the biggest moving object ever constructed in human history. At the time, the ship was longer than the tallest building in the world, and it possessed the power to propel all 47,000 tons of itself across the Atlantic Ocean in just 6 days. It was the most luxurious liner ever constructed, with furnishings that were comparable to only the grandest of homes. It was thought to be unsinkable, designed with 16 watertight compartments that would prevent seawater from spreading throughout its decks and could even stay afloat if the first four compartments filled with water. Indeed the Titanic was the safest and most secure vessel the world had ever seen, built in an age where technology was advancing at an unprecedented pace.
Remember that the Titanic sailed at a time when the western world was thought to be in an irreversible state of progress. The standard of living and an individual’s way of life was improving day after day with a growing sense of unity, peace, and prosperity as the international community developed. The World Wars had yet to prove that technology could be used to cause massive death and destruction, rather than for the sole purpose of making our lives better and easier.
It was more than the grandest ship ever built – it was a symbol of hope for many, especially its 3rd class passengers who were destined for the new world. There, they would have the chance to start anew, in a country that still brought the promise of a better life; a fresh start. The thought that their lives would end before they even reached their destination was beyond unfathomable.
Only one in seven 3rd class passengers would survive the sinking.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the wealthiest people in the world were traveling on the Titanic’s luxurious upper decks. This was before the time of Hollywood, when movie actors and pop stars became the faces of fame and fortune we idealize today. The 1st class passengers that sailed on the Titanic were the celebrities of 1912. No one had any idea that half of them would perish at sea on that night. From a cultural perspective in today’s terms, it would be as if some horrific accident killed half the stars at the Academy Awards one year.
On top of it all, the Titanic did not sink in what would be considered a common accident at sea. It was highly unusual for a ship to not spot an iceberg with ample time to correct its course, even at night. Typically, a berg is seen with 20 minutes to spare before the presumed impact. At the time, the ship had not even entered the ice field that surrounding ships had reported were up ahead. The iceberg was a rogue and, despite having the whole wide ocean to be floating in, just happened to be directly in the Titanic’s path – it was later photographed by a passenger on the Carpathia, the ship that came to the survivors’ rescue. Furthermore, a “side swipe” impact like the Titanic had with the iceberg is the rarest of all maritime accidents. Usually a ship collides head on or is damaged by a direct impact to its side, which would have resulted in only one or two compartments being flooded, leaving the ship afloat. The accident that cost the Titanic its life was more unlikely than anyone, even its builders, could have ever imagined.
And this was its maiden voyage. It wasn’t a ship that had sailed fifty times, ten times, or even as little as once before; it was its very first time at sea. The most technologically advanced, grandest, and most luxurious ship ever built – carrying the wealthiest celebrities in the world and seen as a symbol of hope and promise for many of its passengers – struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage and sank in a cataclysmic state of horror and tragedy. The golden age of humanity that had lasted since the industrial revolution began came to a resounding and finite end. Our seeming invincibility with the technological achievements of the time proved insignificant to the power of mother nature and the fury a block of frozen water can cause.
Titanic’s tale is one of immense tragedy – taking 1,500 lives with it and leaving only 700 behind to recount its final moments. It is a metaphor for the age in which it was built and a story that continues to resonate with the world 100 years later. Today, the ship sits in a state of tranquility over 3,700 metres below the ocean surface as a reminder of the power of nature and our mortality against it. Titanic should never be forgotten, for if it is, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes made by the people of its time.
Here’s the thing, everyone knows I’m a Britney fan – as big as they come. I grew up in the Britney era and have watched one of my favourite pop musicians fall from the pinnacle of her success to the lowest of lows and rebound back a stronger woman, delivering the best music of her career. I will also always have a soft spot for Shania, who has been an innovator and pioneer in the country-pop genre, with her clever twist on words, upbeat sound, and soothing voice.
Despite my love for these two women, there is another who is, quite simply, the greatest female artist in the history of pop music. There are no words that can sum up her genius as an artist, songwriter, musician, and pop legend. She has been in a state of constant evolution since she emerged in the 1980’s to keep herself relevant, current, and at the forefront of the music scene. She’s a phenomenon in every sense of the word. Of course, I’m talking about the one and only Madonna.
Four years after her last release, Madge’s twelfth studio album, MDNA, is in stores today. With it comes a slew of questions that everyone in the media has to ask: can a 53 year old woman still be a pop star in a world where youth is the predominant requisite for success in the music industry? Can she still be called the Queen of Pop when acts like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Katy Perry are so eager to snatch the crown from her? Can she still produce hip music without it sounding forced or contrived? The answer to all of these questions is an undeniable, unequivocal yes!
MDNA is a great pop album, worthy of sitting comfortably on the shelf next to Madonna’s back catalogue of critically appraised work and is a definite step forward from 2008’s mediocre Hard Candy. The first two singles, “Give Me All Your Luvin’” and “Girl Gone Wild,” would lead you to believe that MDNA is a mix somewhere between the candy coated sounds of her early 80’s hits and a modern house music production (ala Confessions on a Dance Floor). Turns out, that’s not the case.
This is a moody album, jumping from moments of pure joy (the catchy “Turn Up The Radio”), to anger (the exceptionally well-crafted, but misleadingly titled “Gang Bang”), to personal confessions of regret (“I F***ed Up”), and the sappy sounds of love (“Masterpiece”).
Musically, it’s just as sporadic, featuring club-thumping beats one minute (“Girl Gone Wild”), before moving to trans-dance sounds reminiscent of 2000’s Music era (“Beautiful Killer” and “Love Spent”), and a few “acoustic electronica” moments (the beautiful “Falling Free”). It’s easily the most eclectic album of Madonna’s long career. Despite such, it’s surprisingly cohesive – perhaps because at the heart of it all, it’s simply Madonna being Madonna: writing and producing great pop-dance music, with a hint of introspection and confession, that makes you want to get up and sweat.
While MDNA is certainly not as good as the best album’s of her career (1998’s Ray of Light, 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor, and 1989’s Like A Prayer), it is a solid effort that proves Madonna is still a force to be reckoned with in the music business. It clearly shows that despite the theatrics of Gaga, the sexualized performances of Rihanna, or the carefully crafted dance numbers of Britney, none of them have yet to take Madonna’s crown. She is still the unmistakable Queen of Pop.
Album Highlights: “Gang Bang,” “Turn Up The Radio,” “Falling Free”
I know, another post already? But of course! I’m taking off for my March holidays tomorrow and won’t get the chance to blog for at least 2 weeks, so I’m getting it all out of my system now.
So what’s the big exciting thing going on in my crazed head today? Apple’s announcement of the
iPad 3 new iPad! Tech nerds and fanboys everywhere can declare today a national holiday, having spent all day yesterday carefully reviewing every spec of the new device in the greatest of detail. All the upgrades under-the-hood are necessary and predictable steps in the evolution of Apple’s latest iDevice.
However, the new retina display is by far the most pristine feature and will, to use Apple’s terms, resolutionize the way we view our electronic devices. The retina display first made its appearance on the iPhone 4 in 2010 and now that the technology can support larger screen sizes, Apple has brought it to the iPad.
I love the display on my iPhone and can’t wait to see a larger version of it on the iPad. Without a doubt, Apple will bring it to their line of laptop computers in the next couple of years as well – and I’ll probably have a geek-out moment when that happens too. It’s part of Apple’s product appeal – not only do they manufacture sleek, gorgeous looking electronics, but now they’re bringing the most beautiful displays ever imagined to their devices as well.
I can’t wait to get my hands on the new iPad!
Not only has the KONY 2012 video gone beyond viral at this point, but it has created a huge wave of controversy as to the legitimacy and credibility of the Invisible Children organization. It appears that there may be more to this issue than what first meets the eye.
It began with a blog post on Invisible Children: KONY 2012, Viewed Critically, which I would encourage you to read as it makes a number of claims as to where the money sent to Invisible Children is being invested and whether their tactics are the most appropriate to solve the problem. Those claims have since been rebutted by this article on Facebook. Just an hour ago, Invisible Children officially responded to these allegations with a detailed and wholly transparent article on their website. Their method of action is fully laid out and has never been “hidden” or “shady” as others have expressed.
Regardless of the comments made for and against Invisible Children (and I am also continuing to read up on this to fully understand as much as possible), I do need to take issue with a common criticism of numerous advocacy campaigns. Too often, people get caught up with “that isn’t enough” or “what next” arguments when they come across an effort such as this. To which I always respond, at least they’re doing something! KONY 2012 may not ultimately solve the problem, but it is making a man more visible than he ever has been in the past 26 years – and it’s a step in the right direction.
Until the KONY 2012 video went viral, what were you doing about Joseph Kony? What did you know about him? Did you even know his name? Were you even aware of what he was doing in Africa? Without a doubt, this campaign has created a massive level of awareness and sparked numerous discussions about him worldwide – and that is never a bad thing. It is central to the idea that I discussed when I first relaunched Damon’s Stead. We learn and grow through discussions, asking questions, challenging each other, and reflecting. The controversy that has arisen from the KONY 2012 campaign is an important part of our education and finding a solution to end the inhumane acts being committed towards fellow human beings. Based on what I have read, I see no harm in the “cover the night” action plan for April 20 and continuing to spread awareness of the situation through the video, while subsequently drawing attention to alternative perspectives.
Kony may no longer be in Uganda, after fleeing to neighbouring nations, but rest assured he is still an active member of the Lord’s Resistance Army, and there is an array of evidence to back up this claim. He is in no way “defenseless” as some articles released in the past 24 hours have claimed. It’s important that we make ourselves aware of the whole situation so we can make our own judgements on the matter.
In the meantime, we are watching social media unite the world in ways that it has never been able to before. Just a couple months ago, an online campaign managed to shelve the controversial SOPA and PIPA bills. In less than 2 days, the KONY 2012 video has amassed over 25 million views from its Vimeo and YouTube pages because of our ability to unite and share through social media. (EDIT: 8 hours after publishing this, that number has grown to 50 million!) I would encourage you to take part in the KONY 2012 campaign in whatever way you best see fit: whether through raising awareness, helping “cover the night” on April 20, or donating to any organization that you feel will best help the people in Uganda, Sudan, and the Congo.
I’ll say it again. Join with us. Make a difference.
Years ago, our family watched a video about a man named Joseph Kony and the horrendous acts against humanity he was committing in Uganda. Every year at Christmas, our family decides on making a donation towards a charity or organization in need and instead of donating towards this particular cause, we decided to donate to the Red Cross, with a request that the money go to Uganda. That decision never really sat right with me.
I have never forgotten the images I saw in that video. Even though it left me so unsettled, I’m ashamed to admit I never bothered to look up whatever happened to these young film makers and their cause to make the invisible children visible. At times, it’s easy to get comfortable in our own lives and forget that around the world, others are suffering. We forget that we are all part of a global community.
When I saw this video posted on my Facebook feed today, I was reminded of why this issue struck such a chord. I was also upset that so little had been accomplished and that Joseph Kony was still at large.
Take 30 minutes out of your day to watch this video. Then visit kony2012.com and let’s put an end to the crimes this man has continued to commit for years and years. I promise you that I will join the millions around the world and line the streets of Bangkok on April 20 and make Joseph Kony famous so that he can be stopped and brought to justice. To keep up-to-date on all that the organization is doing, like and follow their Facebook and Twitter pages.
Join with us. Make a difference.
Yes, that social site where people tweet about the most mundane aspects of their life and celebrity gossip is never ending is actually the best classroom resource I have ever used.
Amidst all that personal stuff is a community of gifted educators who are constantly sharing resources, posting links, and asking questions on every topic imaginable. Blogs, classroom management, classroom supplies/decor, special needs students, at-risk youth, lesson plans, networking ideas, assessment: it’s all on Twitter!
Since making this discovery last December (thanks in part to two teachers I know), I have been astounded with what other teachers are doing and how they’re doing it. You are instantly exposed to more resources than you could ever find on your own.
Honestly, if you’re a teacher and you haven’t done it yet, head on over to Twitter right now, sign up, and search the hashtag #edchat. Start from there, and branch out as you need. You will be amazed with what you can find.
Oscar Night is finally here!
Every year I have a look at the best picture nominees, make my predictions, and enjoy the 5-hour plus ceremony including the over-hyped and glamourized red carpet event. Even out here in Thailand, I plan to avoid all Oscar-related news until after I have been able to download the telecast and watch it first-hand. The long speeches, the dresses, the notoriously unfunny hosts; I love everything about the Academy Awards! It’s like a second Christmas ever year.
Yet, this year, the same buzz just doesn’t seem to be there – at least for me. A few factors could be playing into that. First, I am in Thailand and most of the major nominations never saw a theatrical release in this country. Second, the entire award season has taken place during what has been an incredibly trying and difficult month for myself and all of us who work at Lertlah School. However, I think the most significant reason for my lack of excitement is for the simple reason that few of the films and performances are really worthy of their nominations this year.
Take the best picture nominees for example. It’s not that any of them are particularly bad films, most of them are just far from being Oscar-worthy.
War Horse comes off as a redundant B-rated children’s movie intended for adults that is no different than any animal film of the 1960’s. Sorry Mr. Spielberg.
Midnight in Paris is an obligatory nomination for Woody Allen, and nothing more. It was a great idea but poorly executed.
Moneyball is a decent (I’d even say good) movie, but nothing we haven’t seen before. And yes, Brad Pitt is a great actor, but he didn’t need a best actor nod here, nor did Jonah Hill.
Even though The Help was actually quite good, I can’t say I feel it’s deserving of the “best picture” title. With that being said, all three women nominated in the acting categories more than deserved their nominations.
The Descendants is a tailor-made cliche of what every best picture winner is supposed to be like (much like The King’s Speech last year). It was unoriginal, uninspired, but technically near-perfect.
The only four movies that are truly deserving of the nominations this year are The Artist, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Hugo, and The Tree of Life. These movies had something new to bring to the table, or provided a modern twist to an old idea. Sadly, it appears only The Artist has a chance at winning the final award of the night from The Descendants. My personal pick for best picture would have to be The Tree of Life for being one of the most cinematically gorgeous films in years and using an incredibly unique narrative to tell the story of a family dealing with the passing of a son and brother. It was moving, thought-provoking, and fresh – something that was sorely missing from most of the other nominees.
And now, without further adieu, the films that I believe will be the big winners tonight (but necessarily the ones that I want to win):
BEST PICTURE – The Descendants (but I’m hoping The Artist does manage to take it)
BEST DIRECTOR – Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
BEST ACTOR – George Clooney (The Descendants)
BEST ACTRESS – Viola Davis (The Help)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Octavia Spencer (The Help)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Midnight In Paris (the Academy has to keep their beloved Woody Allen happy…unfortunately)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – The Descendants
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – Rango (no competition in this category)
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – Footnote (I know nothing about any of these movies, so my pick is random)
BEST DOCUMENTARY – Hell and Back Again (Again, I know nothing)
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – The Artist
BEST ORIGINAL SONG – “Man or Muppet” (The Muppets)
BEST SOUND EDITING – Hugo
BEST SOUND MIXING – Hugo
BEST ART DIRECTION – Hugo* (oh, there’s a rant coming, see below)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – The Tree of Life
BEST MAKEUP – The Iron Lady* (see rant)
BEST COSTUME DESIGN – The Artist
BEST FILM EDITING – The Artist
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – Rise of the Planet of the Apes* (see rant)
*The Academy will once again ignore the Harry Potter series, despite its brilliance in these departments. For whatever reason, they have decided that the Potter series is not worth acknowledging at all, despite the fact that time and time again it has deserved awards in the technical categories, ESPECIALLY for best art direction. The final film in the series wholeheartedly deserved the tenth best picture nomination and a best supporting actor nod for Alan Rickman (take out Jonah Hill…seriously). Sadly, I truthfully predict that despite ten years of incredible work in effects, sound, cinematography, costumes, makeup, and art direction, the series will continue to go unrecognized.