By: David Charbonneau

David will be posting his columns every week on Thursday. He has eclectic interests ranging from social and political issues to science. He is a retired Electronics Instructor from Thompson Rivers University, former president of the Faculty Association, and curriculum writer. He now paints acrylic on canvas for Thompson Studio.

The first Canadians

April 19, 2018 - 5:00am

WE ARRIVED IN NORTH AMERICA, in what is now Canada, 16,000 years ago. Within a few thousand years, three quarters of the continent’s large animals were gone.

By “we,” I don’t mean we European colonizers, I mean we Homo sapiens.

There were no Indigenous people when we arrived. Not like 70,000 years ago when we came to Europe from Africa. Then, the Indigenous people of Europe were the Neanderthals. We probably treated them much in the way that Europeans treated the Indigenous people of North America: as savages.

The financialized self

April 12, 2018 - 9:38am

WE HAVE BECOME ENTREPRENEURS in the era of globalization.

Each of us is a little business, left to navigate the risky world of investments and the stock market. As a consequence, the role that the state plays in the welfare of citizens has been reduced.

Now retirement depends on how well we strategize financial speculations. It used to be that pensions were determined by salary and years of service; now it’s risk management.

As financialized subjects, we must consider economic cost–benefit calculations as the natural criteria for evaluating life choices.

Basic income in the new world order

April 5, 2018 - 5:00am

A BASIC INCOME has been promoted from the left and right for years but nothing has come of it. Maybe new leaders and a new world order will change that.

Sometimes called a guaranteed annual income, it has been supported by progressives and neoliberals alike. Progressives argue that a basic income would help reduce poverty. Neoliberals say it decreases government bureaucracy by combining a number of social services like welfare, child benefits, employment insurance, and Old Age Security into one.

In defence of Facebook

March 29, 2018 - 5:00am

I LIKE FACEBOOK but I’m not an apologist for the social media giant.

Facebook has done things wrong. They failed to prevent Cambridge Analytica from gathering detailed information of millions of users. The method used was especially disturbing. They developed a quiz in which 270,000 people responded. Then the response snowballed to 50 million as data from friends was gleaned.

Immigrant women's STEM skills untapped

March 22, 2018 - 5:00am

IF IT MAKES SENSE for girls to enter programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), then it makes even more sense to employ immigrant women who already have these skills.

Girls should to be encouraged to enter STEM fields. Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops is holding a camp for girls at Harper Mountain this summer. The program will provide positive female role models and build confidence in STEM studies.

The U.S. government as theatre

March 15, 2018 - 5:00am

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION doesn’t make sense as government. He has no coherent foreign or domestic policies. He fires trusted advisors regularly. White House staff wake up each morning and check their Tweeter feeds to find out what bizarre direction the country is now going in.

However, the Trump administration does make sense as theatre. Not exactly Shakespeare, although there may be comic elements. More like professional wrestling says Naomi Klein:

“It’s hard to overstate Trump’s fascination with wrestling (Harper’s magazine, Sept., 2017).”

Blockchain could revolutionize global banking

March 8, 2018 - 5:00am

THE ERA OF GLOBALIZATION is drawing to a close. Evidence of that has been made clear by President Trump’s withdrawal from global affairs, his attempt to build an economic and physical wall around the United States. It’s a clumsy attempt to express the genuine concerns of Americans who have been left out of the prosperity reaped by a few.

Two billion people around the world have no access banking. They are unable to make loans to start small businesses; they have no credit, and no means of sending or receiving money.

The titans of technology have feet of clay

March 1, 2018 - 5:00am

TECHNOLOGY SEEMS UNSTOPPABLE. The accumulated wealth of the Big Five: Apple, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon, have a combined value of $4 trillion. That’s more than twice Canada’s annual GDP.

Wall Street also looked unstoppable before the crash of 2008. Cryptic investments made amazing returns but finance wizardry also has feet of clay. Conor Sen, business columnist for Bloomberg Views, summarizes that vulnerability:

The beaver is Canadian

February 22, 2018 - 5:00am

THE BEAVER exemplifies what it means to be Canadian. Rachel Poliquin puts it this way:

“Humpbacked and portly, with an earnest and honest charm, beavers epitomize the Canadian spirit of unpretentiousness, integrity, and industriousness (Canada’s History magazine, Aug/Sept, 2017).”

The beaver has not always been regarded as exceptionally hard-working. Canada’s Indigenous people viewed them as skilled builders, healers and earth-makers but not any more hard-working than coyotes or porcupines.