Fear. And control.

There’s a new way of selling ideas today. Fear.

I opened my morning paper on Friday to see an article about how to explain global warming to your children so that they won’t be afraid of it. But the whole global warming pitch is all about creating fear, even in children. David Suzuki spoke on global warming at an elementary school in Edmonton, Canadalast week:

Suzuki, who was invited to speak at Calgary’s Altadore elementary school and accept $835 collected by the students for his foundation, asked kids what Harper’s main priority was after being elected last year.

"The only thing he cares about is getting re-elected with a majority government," he said, adding any of the PM’s pledges to preserve the environment are cynical ploys to that end.

"I don’t believe there is a green bone in Harper’s body – he has never, ever indicated he cares about the environment."

He told the room some of his message was directed at the adults, because the youngsters don’t vote and Harper and other politicians don’t care about them.

"It’s up to your moms and dads to ensure your futures and livelihoods are part of the agenda," he said to about 185 students ranging from kindergarten to Grade 6.

Yes kids, your futures and your lives are in danger. It’s a bit like Chicken Little. Tell people that the sky is falling. Back it up with snippets of science that suggest a scenario that is "very likely". And if someone diagrees with you just accuse them of being "deniers"; say that they don’t care.Ignore conflicting information. Supress discussion and dissent. Create more fear.

The goal? To solve the problem? We if that were true, then more information and discussion would be a good thing, right?

No this is all about control.

Experts like Al Gore and David Suzuki who have become self-appointed experts on the issue of global warming, who clearly know that they are right and all who disagree are wrong, want to exert control over the way we live – because we live the wrong way apparently. But don’t dare question them:

David Suzuki became a walking advertisement for global warming proof positive when he angrily stormed out of a radio interview with Toronto AM640′s John Oakley one week ago today.

Suzuki, a prominent Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) television commentator, who motors around Canada in a bus garishly painted with climate change logos, registered hot air when Oakley suggested that global warming might not be the "totally settled issue" Suzuki is out there shilling.

It reminds me of the movie American President, in which the title character Michael Douglas comments on a potential presidential challenger:

Whatever your particular problem is I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only; making you afraid of it, and telling you who is to blame for it. And that ladies and gentlemen is how you win elections.

As the story goes, we need to be very afraid of global warming. Oh and by the way, it is our very successes that have caused this problem. We are to blame – if we live in the western world that is.

The solution is simple though. The United Nations and the governments of the world will solve the problem by creating much more bureaucracy and assuming much more control over the way we live and the way our economies work. Unless we live in a developing country such as China or India that is.

Just as a sanity check, when was the last time the UN or any government actually successfully solved any kind of problem?The thought of bureaucrats telling me how to live my life? Now that’s fear.

Tip of the hat to small dead animals.

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Do as we say, not as we do.

Steve Janke at Angry in the Great White North points out today that the former Liberal government of Canada knew when they signed on to the Kyoto Accord that its targets were unachievable. And according to the Toronto Star that comes direct from one of the Prime Minister’s senior advisors:

The previous Liberal government ratified the Kyoto Protocol knowing Canada wasn’t ready to take the tough measures needed to address climate change and would likely miss the deadlines for reducing emissions, says a top adviser to former prime minister Jean Chrétien.

Eddie Goldenberg said in a speech today that the Chrétien government nevertheless signed and ratified the international pact because it was an "absolutely necessary" first step in galvanizing public opinion to meet the global warming challenge

So even though they know that the targets couldn’t be achieved almost 10 years ago, let alone now, they still had no problem passing a law forcing the current government to meet targets they never had any intention of meeting.

Read Steve’s complete post. It provides a lot more interesting information such as how the targets were set to make the Prime Minister look good:

It was important for Jean Chretien to be seen as an environmental leader. So despite the secret memo warning of serious political problems he gave the order to commit Canada to emissions to 6% below 1990 levels. Wilkinson remembers, "Everyone was surprised that we had a number that moved us on a path to meaningful reductions. Some people in the room were ecstatic, others shocked and concerned." Insiders say the decision had less to do with science or economics, than the with the Prime Minister’s desire to be keeping up with the US.


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So which is it?

The city of Waterloo, Canada, where I currently live, requires dog owners to buy a dog tag licence every year. The bottom of the application form has this ominous threat:

Failure to purchase a Dog Licence before March 1 may result in a $125.00 fine and a $30.00 victim surcharge.

Now who would the victim be? My dog, because she doesn’t have a license? Or me, because I’m paying a $30.00 victim surcharge for a victimless bylaw infraction?

Yet the back of the application form lists the licence fees for purchase before March 1 AND after March 1. So they’ll take your money after March 1 too, but you just might get a fine as well.

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Chooing your child’s father.

From donors at a sperm bank that is. Women want to know a lot more about potential fathers for their children:

While the women who used his sperm may be perfectly satisfied, women today seem to be looking for a more unquestionably accomplished sort of man. Handsome and brilliant. Talented and charming. Loving and kind. A match one might only dream of finding in the flesh.

“Many women see this as another way to give their child a head start in life,” says Lori Andrews, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law who has studied the sperm bank industry, of the high stakes of sperm selection.

And increasingly, say the banks, women want proof of perfection before buying a dream donor’s sperm.

So what are they looking for?

So who is Mr. Right for today’s woman?

He can’t be fat.

“We look for a height-weight ratio that is within the norm,” Dr. Sims explains.

Being short is negotiable.

“If you have a 5-foot-7 or -8 donor who is a medical student or Ph.D. scientist, that outweighs the height issue in many situations,” Dr. Sims says.

Education matters. California Cryobank only takes men who are in college or who graduated from a four-year college. At the Fairfax bank, “there is a preference for guys with medical and law degrees,” Mr. Jaeger says.

I don’t recall dating being that complex.


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The pace of technology.

I have two teenagers. More correctly my sons are 19 and 21 years old. Between them and my wife and I we own every kind of gadget you can think of. TVs, DVD players, laptops, iPods, cellphones, minidisc players, and so on. In fact each one of us has more than one of each of those devices.

As new devices have come out my kids have sold their old gadgets so that they can buy new ones. The New York Times has noticed this:

Consider Greg Stoft, 18, who lives with his parents in Fremont, Calif. He wanted to buy a $45 skateboard, but he doesn’t work and his parents recently decided to tighten the purse strings, he said. To get the money, he decided to sell his used iPod Nano on Craigslist, the free online bulletin board.

Though they note that teens are driven to new gadgets by their hipness factor, one quote suggests that teens are forced to adapt new technology:

“It is part of this generation’s DNA,” said Gary Rudman, president of GTR Consulting, a youth-culture market research firm in San Francisco. “This generation is forced to adapt, adopt and advance when it comes to technology. Basically what’s happening is, unlike previous generations that had the luxury of understanding a piece of technology and slowly adopting it, this generation is on a treadmill.”

It isn’t that teens are forced to adapt; they do it by nature.And technology is changing at a faster pace than ever before.

Cassette tape players debuted in 1964. CDs didn’t arrive until 20 years later in 1984. Then it only took a little more than a decade until MP3s appeared. Thirty years of progression in listening to music. And in those years nothing really changed on the players.

Consider the iPod. Introduced in 2001 it has progressed in a mere 5 years from being a music player to a video player, and eventually to a phone. In a generation of teenagers with plenty of disposable income, it is more of a fashion accessory than a gadget. And essentially a disposable one.

Cellphones follow the same trend. From phones to cameras to music players to email devices in that same five years.

Technology is changing incredibly quickly and teens are merely adapting to it as they always have. This is the kind of planned obsolence scenario that marketers and technology companies can only dream of.


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A culture of urgency.

Mark Evans commented the other day on addiction to devices like the BlackBerry:

The Blackberry is a wonderful device but it’s addictive, consuming and, for many people, completely unnecessary. We all like to think the world is moving faster and every e-mail needs to answered in minutes but it doesn’t really work that way if you step back from the fray. People who have Blackberrys need to discipline themselves to check their e-mail once an hour or once every few hours, and resist the unproductive and annoying urge to check all the time.

The other day I was having dinner with my wife at about 7:30 on a Friday evening. At the next table was a husband, wife, and two small children having dinner. The husband was checking his BlackBerry every few minutes during dinner.

I’m sitting in a coffee shop reading the paper and I just noticed a twenty-something man in a t-shirt, jeans, and ballcap pull out his BlackBerry and quickly check it, as if something urgent would be occurring at 10:30 on a Sunday morning. Of course I am typing on my laptop in that same coffee shop so perhaps I shouldn’t be saying anything.

I’m a gadget person, and I definitely thought the BlackBerry was a cool device, but I have no desire to carry one. Those types of devices have created a culture of urgency where everything is critical regardless of its actual importance.

There are many people, such as salespeople, for whom a BlackBerry is beneficial. However, for most people it just becomes an obsession. The world is moving at the same speed as it always was. The email will still be there in 20 minutes so you might as well enjoy yourself now and then.

Finish your coffee and the paper first.


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Lose weight by gaining weight.

John Baird provides this analogy to describe carbon emission credit trading as a way to meet Kyoto targets:

"It’s almost like saying around the world we’ve signed a protocol to all go on a diet and lose weight and instead of losing weight, we gain 35 pounds. But we somehow get an out by paying someone in Russia to lose weight for us. And by the way, they don’t lose weight. This just compensates them for weight they lost 20 years ago."

Spending billions of dollars without reducing carbon dioxide emissions at all, even if you pretend it does, just doesn’t seem like a viable solution.

And while I’m on my soapbox, it drives me crazy when people connect Kyoto and pollution. Kyoto is about reducing a particular greenhouse gas – carbon dioxide. We exhale it, and plants need it. It is not pollution. Reduced pollution is actually considered to be a contributing factor to global warming. Meeting Kyoto targets will not reduce pollution.

Via Fighting for Taxpayers.


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The online video industry.

Read/Write Web has provided and excellent index to the online video industry:

There are now so many companies vying to be the next YouTube, it’s easy to lose track of them all. So let’s take a look at the entire online video industry and categorize the major players. Our thanks to Ali Dagli of Savvian, for providing us a lot of the useful data listed here.

Tip of the hat to Good Morning Silicon Valley.


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