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I am a Canadian living in the U.K. as a mathematician, teacher, and researcher. I tend to WB&C over issues surrounding my life (Sorry!). Ask me about cowkens.

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Last week was a week full of elections:

First, there was the provincial election in Prince Edward Island... on Star Wars Day. The premier, Wade MacLauchlan, retained his title for the Liberal Party for the third time running. Prince Edward Island is a very small province and so, did not have many seats to fill in its legislative assembly; there were only 27 seats to be won. However, the leader for the Progressive Conservatives, Rob Lantz, lost his own seat and, as such, is unlikely to remain as party leader. 

Second, there was the provincial election in Alberta. The Progressive Conservatives had been the ruling political party in the "Texas of Canada", having ruled (with a stranglehold on the province) since 1971, but the call of an early election by the Conservatives cost them the election as they were thrown into third place behind the relatively unknown Wildrose Party and the majority-winning New Democratic Party (NDP), led by Rachel Notley. This was an incredible win for the NDP, especially where this was well known for its Conservative politics (N.B. The Prime Minister's constituency is in Calgary.) and as there is a federal election coming up in October. The fact the Prime Minister's own party lost Alberta did not go down well with his party, especially when Peter MacKay went on record to label Alberta as having turned into "Albertastan"; fortunately, graphic designer, Laura Lynn Johnston, chose to parody this by designing Albertastan t-shirts with profits going to charity... since then, I have urged Peter Mackay to buy one of her t-shirts and if you have access to Twitter, then please do the same, urging @MinPeterMackay to buy her shirt for charity (and yes, there is a blue shirt for him to choose if he wishes).

Third, there was the national election in the United Kingdom. Leading up to the close of the polls at 10:00pm, it was being predicted that the Conservatives would hold a minority with the Labour party being a close second. However, at 10:00pm, that suddenly changed, with the Conservatives suddenly having an "almost majority" and Labour trailing with almost 90 fewer seats. What nobody was expecting, though, was what happened later in the morning as the Conservatives miraculously pulled off a majority win, having just jumped over the 325 seat boundary to earn 331 seats in Parliament. I am quite certain even David Cameron was shocked by these results... happily so, but shocked nonetheless. Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), was surprised when the 10:00pm predicted had her winning 58 of the 59 Scottish seats; she admitted she wasn't expecting to win THAT many, but she did end up winning 56 seats. The Liberal Democrats, after having formed a coalition with the Conservatives (i.e. after having made a deal with the devil), were simply blasted out of the water, losing almost all of their seats and being reduced from nearly 50 seats to less than 10 this time around.  

One of the big themes that came from all of these elections was the unfair distribution of seats. The provincial elections in Canada were a little bit telling of this issue, especially in Alberta, where the NDP did not have a majority of the popular vote, but had a majority of the seats. The UK election, though, was very much telling of this: The controversial United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) won only one seat... but this is actually pretty sad for democracy because they had nearly 4 million votes cast for them throughout the country. If proportional representation was given throughout the nation, then there would be no outright winner and instead, we would still be waiting to see who will be the Prime Minister. 

However, there is one key issue with proportional representation... and that is regionality. A nation is divided into regions (i.e. provinces, territories, states, counties) and each region will want its voice represented fairly as well. As each region will respond differently to each party's policies, but also as each region has a significantly different population to most other regions, proportional representation would not benefit a House of Commons, full of local Members of Parliament elected to represent each constituency and region of the nation. There is an alternative, though... and that is the alternative vote. One of my friends, Matt Parker, wrote an article on this in the L.A. Times, discussing how the alternative vote system works and how it would help to destroy 2-party politics. It is quite an intriguing system... unfortunately, the alternative vote was shut down in a referendum vote in the last Parliament, so there will likely be no mention of this again for some time, even though this election was more imbalanced than it has been in several decades (or possibly ever).

Another issue is the fact that the United Kingdom, unlike Canada, is not actually a federal nation. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland each have their own devolved Parliamentary systems, but England does not, so its voice comes only from Westminster, which governs the whole of the U.K. It is perhaps better for the U.K. to fully become a federal nation so that English politics can be voted on without the involvement of the other regions of the U.K. interfering. Also, there has been some question about the functionality of the House of Lords and how they are chosen. Nonetheless, in the U.K., the House of Lords tends to have suitably chosen members who will not favour one party over another. In Canada, however, this is not necessarily the case, as we have very easily learned from the Mike Duffy scandal. For Canada, it may actually be better to find some means with which to elect the senators... but perhaps this is where proportional representation can play its part.

So here is what I was thinking we need to be doing:

If a government has two elected bodies through which all laws are created, passed, and verified, then, when we have an election to determine who will be our Prime Minister, we need to use our votes in a double-count system, where we vote for our local MPs:
  1. Voting for our MPs is to be determined through the alternative voting system, as detailed in Matt Parker's article.
  2. All first choice votes are counted to determine the popular vote, which will then be used to create a proportional representation within the Senate / House of Lords. Each party leader will then be told to select its senators / lords based off these numbers.
This may seem a bit more complex, but it would definitely be fairer than the current system, which allows people to hold majority governments with full and absolute control without having the support of the majority of those who voted in the first place. With today's technology, it should not be so difficult to implement and calculate winners based off these methods, so it really ought to be implemented. For David Cameron, who has been rumoured to claim he will not seek to run for a third term, it may be worth implementing such a strategy; although it would obviously appear deliberate as he wouldn't be seeking another term, it would create a dynamic shift in politics, which may bring a renewed interest in politics and also create a positive legacy for Cameron as a leader who cares enough to seek better representation of the people's interest in Westminster.

The question for now, though, is what will we get for the next 4 - 5 years? There is a LOT of speculation at the moment... and it hasn't been one full week yet since these elections took place. We will eventually learn what to expect as events unfold, but for now, we need to continue working hard to ensure that horrible policy ideas do not appear and that new and exciting ideas emerge so that we can begin to see progress in our respective lands.

The Canadian Cat

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Learning How to Respond

Tomorrow, I will start to hand out mathematics tests to my students at the school where I am currently working. I have written the tests myself and I know they will be somewhat challenging. However, my objective is to see the students engage with the questions to seek the information necessary to answer the questions correctly. Especially when it comes to word problems, which will undoubtedly appear on their final exams in June 2015, students are required to translate the real-world problem into a mathematical problem, knowing essentially what to then do to solve the mathematical problem before applying the result back into a real-world solution. The problem with all of this, though, is that even though students in the U.K. sit Functional Skills exams in Year 9 (i.e. Grade 8 in North America), where word problems are in abundance, these skills somehow disappear with many students later when they sit GCSE exams in Year 11 (i.e. Grade 10 in North America), so how do you get the students to respond?

This issue of learning how to respond has cropped up in my thinking this past week. On Tuesday, I will be going to the Hampstead Theatre to see the play, State Red. There is a good review of the play found on another blogger's Blogspot page, which addresses police killings, something that has become a major issue in the United States, where the killing of Michael Brown by police officer, Darren Wilson, has sparked riots and protests across the United States and around the world, especially after Wilson was not to be charged with any crimes for his actions whilst on duty. What we have seen in the media is the shock and outrage of the public over the death of this young black male, which has further correlated the notion of such incidents with discrimination against the black population of the United States, especially when matters of justice are concerned. However, in this play, the attention is reversed and focused on the officer, Luke, played by Samuel Anderson, who has killed a man and then left home. A year later, he returns home and reunites with his mother, Joyce, played by Maxine Finch, and father, Richard, played by Geoff Leeslie, who is about to be promoted to the role of Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police; his best friend, Matthew, played by Toby Wharton, is also a police officer and everyone is wondering what ever happened to Luke.

N.B. I do need to thank Samuel Anderson for providing the link on his Twitter feed to the review and for mentioning this play; otherwise, I may never have heard about it, especially where I am living outside of London at the moment. =:-)

When it comes to learning how to respond, I also think about what's happening around me at the moment. The church I attend is still trying to get to grips on the discussion over marriage equality within the church and how they should respond. It has been a rather sensitive topic for many due somewhat to their own individual upbringings and what they believe the Bible tells them about this. Marriage equality now exists in the U.K. and homosexual couples have the opportunity to officially be married with the same legal rights as heterosexual couples. However, gay Christians also exist and they would appreciate receiving some sort of blessing from the church, i.e. one of their active communities, for their partnership. Still, though, this involves a lot of discussion and one of my gay friends, whom I (think I have) mentioned in a previous article and whose church wedding I attended this summer in central Canada, even said that a church cannot rush through this, either to reject or accept it, as this will surely affect its members in some way otherwise; he even provided me with a link to New Direction Ministries of Canada, which is exploring the question of how to respond to homosexuality within the church.

Politically, how some countries, most notably the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, among others, have responded to the issues of terrorism globally have caused much anxiety and worry for its citizens. Previously, I discussed the issue of terrorism amidst the killing of the two Canadian soldiers in October 2014. I still do not believe that what happened that week were acts of terrorism, especially as three RCMP officers were shot and killed in my home province of New Brunswick in June 2014 for more seemingly terroristic reasons. The response from prime minister, Stephen Harper, has been less than reassuring, causing Canada to join the United States in the war on terror when we could be spending our money on local defence on site and focusing on stricter gun control laws.

In the U.K., the current hot topic is immigration, especially as the U.K. is a member of the European Union. The European Union has its guidelines for EU members' immigration policies and the U.K. has been finding it difficult to cope with these guidelines as there has been an incredible surge of immigrants entering the country, especially from other EU countries, like Poland, Spain, and Italy. The prime minister, David Cameron, is failing on his promise to reduce immigration numbers, having attempted to reform the European Union rather than work alongside it to find a better solution that is suitable on both ends; basically, he was caught out not knowing how to respond properly to the union of which he is not the leader, but rather just a member. With both the U.K. and Canada heading to the polls in 2015 in national elections, it will be very interesting to see if either country thinks its respective leader has responded well to the issues with which they were faced.

We know we cannot respond with the notion, Fight fire with fire, as this keeps the destructive flames burning down bridges and destroying our humanity. We need to look at incidents with great care and we need to look at everyone involved, how they are reacting to these situations, even if they were responsible for the actions occurring as we may learn that the people responsible are suffering, too, knowing what they have done. We must be accountable for our actions and decisions; we must practise what we preach.

The Canadian Cat

Sunday, November 02, 2014


There has been a lot of recent news that is involved debating over various issues. In Canada, last weeks tragic shooting at Parliament Hill, along with the previous killing of another soldier, are being seen as terrorist events; however, many are questioning this as the tragic shooting of three Canadian police officers back in June was not seen as terrorism, even though the murderer committed these actions willingly against these particular individuals. Also in Canada, the debate over The sex scandal case of former CBC radio presenter, Jian Ghomeshi, has caused quite a division on whether or not his actions were consented and has also brought up a lot of discussion on sexual abuse and gender equality issues in the workplace. In the United Kingdom, churches are currently debating whether or not to use recent legislation to allow them to conduct same sex weddings within their premises. Of course, this is a divisive issue as people tend to either be definitely for it or definitely against it. These issues have brought up an absolute just divide between two different views and it is becoming difficult finding ways to get people to communicate effectively with each other over any of these topics.

These issues have become somewhat absolutist in that the two sides that are arguing are almost arguing contrary viewpoints. In the case of the shootings and killings in Canada, it is clearly absolutist as the discussion is over whether or not the murderers were terrorists. However, this divide is problematic as it is a political issue, which has seen Canada get it self involved in military efforts overseas for which they should not be participating and have no absolute need to participate. The leader of the new Democratic Party of Canada, Thomas Mulcair, publicly stated that he did not believe that these murderers were indeed terrorists, but the leaders of the conservative party of Canada and the Liberal party of Canada, both of whom are commonly seen as "upsets", have actually stated that they each agree that these were terrorist attacks, even citing the statement from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that they believed these were terrorist acts. British celebrity, Russell Brand, went on to his YouTube channel, called The Trews, to give his opinion, stating that the claim of these as terrorist acts, especially when three RCMP officers were killed in Moncton, New Brunswick, and yet, these acts were not seen as terrorist acts; Russell Brand went on to suggest that this is the case because the man who killed the police officers had no affiliation to a religious group, unlike the other two gunmen, even though it has been reported that mental health issues are a very likely major factor in the cases of the latter two gunmen.

The issue in Britain over equal marriage has some clear absolutist approaches to it as it is either a yes or no vote, either supporting gay marriage or rejecting gay marriage within the confines of a church. In my particular church, there seems to be an equal split of those in favour and those against. However, it is also known that my particular church tends to take a somewhat liberal stand in support of equal marriage and I can easily understand why this ought to be the case. Marriage all to be a fundamental right available to everyone and not just to those who are attracted to the opposite sex, but the simplest defense against the this, which many conservative Christians will tend to use, is that "It is not allowed in the Bible". However, this argument is highly flawed and that is why this debate is taking place. Nonetheless, even though it has been suggested in numerous sermons at this church, a lot of the people who are still against same-sex marriage seem to still be using the old excuse that has been rejected in sermons. Therefore, we need to understand why they are still rejecting this and why they are using the same excuses that I've been debunked in sermons in order to see if they are rationale for wanting to reject this is valid. At the same time, we need to understand why this church wants to go ahead to allow same-sex marriage is in the church. We have some idea as to why already, but there are still on answered questions it appears as those who are against are willing to question various motives and philosophies surrounding these alternative viewpoints. Thankfully, though, the church is going to engage in conversation with itself to ask all of these questions and to respond to all of these questions before making this decision and that is very encouraging. It is better for these discussions to take place and for rational decisions to be made rather than simply making a decision without first consulting with those who will be affected by it. However, such actions do you need to take a considerable amount of time and time seems to be a factor here as the notice of the discussion has only come up recently. Therefore, One immediate question that must be asked is whether or not we have sufficient time to come to a resolution on this matter with the a little amount of time we have to discuss it.

The issue of gender equality in the workplace and sexual abuse is not so simple in this particular instance as there are many unanswered questions still regarding the actions that took place, what consent was allowed, and who is to blame for all of these actions. There are a lot of "feminist" approaches to the situation and, for the most part, they are reasonable; women should not be subjected to unnecessary abuse and violence for any reason at all. However, this is where the understanding of what it means to be a "feminist" reaches Muddy Waters; The female accusers in this particular situation have gone to the media prior to going to the police for the most part and the accused is being ridiculed because he is a celebrity figure that has previously been praised for his efforts with the radio broadcaster and especially because he is a male. I do not and will never claim to be a "feminist" because I believe that equality is more important then siding with one gender. I would rather see myself as a "humanist" as this term promotes a stronger sense of equality for all rather than support for a few. Looking at much of the feedback people have on this issue, many people are very quick to set judgement (and punishment if they could) on Ghomeshi, although he is the accused and we are meant to live in a society where people are seen as "innocent until proven guilty". As I stated in my previous post, I cannot see how going to the media before going to the police on such an issue is adequate and I believe that such actions were done deliberately to "punish" Ghomeshi just in case the police investigation that is current Lee happening goes nowhere. The irony to this is that the police investigation will probably question the motives of these women for going to the media first and that will create serious problems for the women and hence, for the issues that have been presented as a result of this situation. I am not saying that I think the presenters actions, even as he presented in a Facebook message last Sunday night, our "acceptable", but there is a valid point and that the issue of consent must be raised, and where these women have gone to the media before going to the police, one must wonder whether or not they consented to these actions initially. It is not fair on Ghomeshi to be found guilty without having gone to trial as this creates the opposite absolutist argument of "guilty until proven innocent", which is commonly seen in our society as being inappropriate. Siding with the women because they have claimed to have been abused by this man is not okay because the evidence has not yet suggested this. The problem that I have with the feminist movement is that it to easily takes sides on issues such as these, where as a humanist movement would more easily seek equality and justice for all, having investigated the situation saw early and coming to inappropriate decision regarding this situation. Of course, that is not to say that all the feminism ask in this way, but it has taken such an approach in the past and this is inappropriate.

So that just leaves us with one question... Why call this post "backtrack"? A lot of the reason for this is because there have been people this week who have backtracked on previous comments on these issues. One example in the case of the CBC radio presenter is the leader of the Green party of Canada, Elizabeth May, Who initially sided with the presenter, then backtracked after hearing and reading some of the details of the accusations the women have presented. I, too, have questioned this, but I have chosen to stand my ground on this issue because I do not think it is fair on the presenter to be condemned as "guilty" without having these issues addressed properly and resolved. The broadcaster fired him, even though he had provided information to them regarding these accusations, and now there is a potential lawsuit against the broadcaster for unfair dismissal. Regarding the shootings in Canada, initially, there were many reports that were praising the TV media for presenting fair and balanced stories of these incidents, not immediately concluding that these work "terrorist attacks", but now, this has become a political game as politicians are fighting amongst each other as to whether or not these actually were a terrorist acts. I feel that there will be more backtracking on this issue as there are many good points being presented to suggest why they should not be deemed as terrorist acts at all, especially the murders of the three police officers in my home province of New Brunswick last June, which, again, were never seem to have been terrorist acts because the murderer never claimed to have any religious affiliation with any particular faith group. So, is backtracking a good thing to do? In my opinion, it is somewhat okay, but I would have to seriously question why the first opinions were being upheld before the backtracking took place. I feel that jumping to conclusions is the easiest suspect of this, but of course, there may be other solutions or reasons for this. Nonetheless, although the new suggestions or opinions or ideas have probably been thought out more meaningfully, the initial thoughts should have also been thought out meaningfully and carefully before being publicly addressed as such. I am willing to state that I do not believe that the shootings in Canada were committed by "terrorists", that Jian Ghomeshi ought to be seen as innocent at this time and that he ought to receive much more support then he is apparently getting right now because of these horrible accusations being made by accusers who were willing to teach his image by going to the media before the police, and that although I personally am in favour of same-sex couples getting married, I do not necessarily believe that we have discussed this as thoroughly as we could have been doing previously and that it would be good for a church community as a whole to understand why there are same-sex marriages, why the British government has allowed these marriages to take place, as in many other countries now, and why this particular church should have the go ahead to conduct such marriages themselves. 

Discussion is important. However, jumping to conclusions, even if you are discussing issues with other people, is not a good thing to do. You must be thoughtful, caring, and careful in your discussions so that you can get a better sense of the picture that is the issue at hand. You need to be patient in discussing issues with others and you should not let your emotions get the better of you, as this provokes the temptation to jump to a particular conclusion that could very well be the wrong conclusion to make.

The Canadian Cat

Monday, October 20, 2014

Taking a Break

Hello again.

This is a pretty dull moment for me as I actually don't have much to talk about today. I tried thinking of something yesterday, came up with nothing, then couldn't get any ideas down in time for the normal Sunday posting. Unfortunately, today is somewhat the same as I do not know what to talk about.

However, perhaps this is the point: Sometimes, you need to take a break from all of the stuff that is happening around you and you just need to unwind and relax. For me, that is currently involving settling into a new job, paying bills, and figuring out what to do with my Ph.D. thesis. However, not thinking about that stuff gave me an opportunity to just be at peace with myself and that was probably needed and very much deserved. It's good to take a break once in a while.

Therefore, take a break from time to time; you probably need it anyway... just don't take too many of them. =:-D

The Canadian Cat

Sunday, May 04, 2014


As I am new to the vlogging issue, I have just learned that this Google thing has complicated me somewhat: I seem to have a CanadianCat YouTube channel, but it's attached to a different e-mail address and because of how Google operates, I cannot combine this blog site to that YouTube channel. Therefore, please stay tuned for updates over the next several days as I try to figure out what to do about this. However, please remember I also have a Facebook page, which is a good go-to source now:

Also, the new post (a vlog) is up if you look for the next most recent post. Laters.

The Canadian Cat

On Being Practical

It's May 4, 2014. As I said I may do on my Facebook page (See link below.), I will be creating vlogs for the month of May... just because. Here's the link to the first video:



The Canadian Cat

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/canadianclowder

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Subverting the Empire

Just like all of the other weeks that I have been facing recently, this week will have a full share of oddities. Previously, it's been fighting against false accusations made by previous employers or sorting out the upcoming return to my Ph.D. studies or the occasional event to attend (with no money to spend on it). Now, it's somewhat different: I'm fighting back, accusing the previous employers of wrongdoing (and with suitable evidence to back it up, unlike their claims, which were ludicrous), I'm still working on the final arrangements for returning to my Ph.D. studies (although the Canadian government may make that harder as there will be new financial considerations to investigate), and I need to find some way of getting some rather important documentation obtained, although the people I need to help me obtain it do not appear to be willing to help (and although I absolutely MUST have this documentation before I return to Canada for the summer... P.S. I'm returning home to Canada for the summer.).

With every passing week, I feel that things are simply getting weirder and weirder around me. Perhaps it's because I just spent almost 4 years teaching in secondary schools, after having finished working on a Ph.D. degree. Perhaps it's because I feel I am losing the connections I have made over the past 4 years through my work experience. Perhaps it's because I do not feel cared for as much at church as I (thought I) did when I first joined (as has always been the case with all but one church I've attended in my life; the only exception, I believe, has since shut it doors completely). Perhaps it's because I know that things are going to change dramatically yet again for me, but this time, going in reverse as I return to my Ph.D. student status. Whatever it is, there is a bit of awkwardness about my personal situation and there is a continuous lack of normality in my life.

However, I do feel I can begin to relate to some of the Biblical concepts of subverting the empire; the empirical structures that govern our world today are not just, but are rather created for the sake of minimising effort for some whilst allowing others to suffer. The bureaucracy of U.K. politics is just that at the moment; as an example, I cannot claim an unfair dismissal against my former employers because I had not worked there for more than 2 years, even though they admitted to violating various policies in dismissing me. To subvert the empire in Biblical terms, and more importantly in Jesus' terms, is to use the rules they have created to your advantage; for example, in the Sermon on The Mount, Jesus notes the following to his listeners:

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you."

The key word here is But... i.e. "do NOT resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you..." It is in this wording that we understand what is being implied by Jesus' recommendations. If you are struck on the right cheek (usually a back-handed slap), then turning the other cheek would compel the aggressor to perform an open-handed slap to hit the other cheek, which was more disgraceful for the aggressor than the victim if performed. Similarly, if you are sued and they wanted your coat, then giving them your cloak would make you naked and because they took your cloak, too, they would be ashamed publicly for making you naked. Also, by Roman law, a soldier could force you to carry his belongings with him for one mile, but they were not allowed to go further, so if you willingly said you would go another mile with the soldier, then that would worry him greatly. Basically, to subvert the empire is to use their rules and ideologies against them.

In my situation, I have been able to see what these parables can mean to me in practical terms in the present. However, I also see how difficult it is to manage such tasks because it can easily require instant consideration. With my Ph.D. degree and with my previous employers, I have followed the steps carefully as each situation progressed and with patience, I have been able to show that not only have I been cooperative, but that I am also determined to prove my case each time and that injustices occurred against me. Now that it is known that injustices have occurred, they ought to be highlighted and addressed and that is what has been happening for quite some time now with the situations in which I have been faced (or am currently facing). I am still having to fight back against some issues, but I will continue to do all I can so that it is done in a subversive manner to see the empirical structure thrown on its own head.

To fight back is not to act in haste, but rather with care for the due process so that you can show that you are not only following the rules, but you are acting with great patience and care to address issues that concern you and that shows others you are passionate about seeing things done right... which they ought to be in the first place.

The Canadian Cat

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Looking Forward

I can clearly remember the motto of my high school, painted on the walls of the gymnasium: Look forward with hope, look backward with pride. This was quite an important motto for me in particular as I was entering the high school in a French immersion program, which I had only chosen to join while Mom was speaking to me about it in the car en route to St. Stephen, N.B. and Calais, ME one day; I even remember passing by one of the Oak Bay, N.B. turnoff roads, heading towards the causeway as I made the agreement. Why I chose to agree to do the French Immersion course was beyond me; I had previously refused to take it, suggesting it was going to have no effect on my future, but I guess it's Canada and we are bilingual, so I think that's why I changed my mind in the car. 

It's too easy to get bogged down in our history. Of course, we study history in school. Religious institutions generally study the history of their faiths as a means of explaining their purposes in life. Politicians discuss history to their constituents to highlight past errors, especially, though, when mentioning the faults of rival members who were in power before them. Milestone events often reflect on history, using statistics to look at trends over time to see what, if anything has changed; these statistics are also used widely in financial analyses, banking, government reforms, social policies, etc. History is the emphasis for which we try to change the future.

However, reflecting on the Christian Easter story, it is not about a man fulfilling prophecies just to be executed by Roman crucifixion in order to show by resurrection that he rose again. As I learned in this morning's church service, by summarising it like this, we are simply reflecting on the past events and thus, are looking backwards... and using my school's motto, we are doing this with pride, which happens to be one of the seven deadly sins listed in the Bible. Instead, we should be looking forward; we are obviously aware of what happened, but we need to see where we are to go ahead in our lives and this does not come from looking in the past, but rather by planning in the present to aim for a better future. Going back to the Christian Easter story, after Jesus was resurrected, he actually remained on the Earth for several days before ascending into Heaven (i.e. the Ascension, a key element of the Easter story that is not mentioned with any significant relevance at Easter time). After he ascended and was never seen again, his disciples continued to look into the sky, expecting him to return to them almost immediately. They were told by angels to stop doing this and instead, to start doing what they were told to do by Jesus. By staring into the sky, do Christians wonder "When will Jesus come back to Earth?" or "When will I get to be with God with Jesus seated at His right hand?" If it's the former, then it's a reflection of the past event and again, it's the trap of looking backwards, but if it's the latter, then it's preparing the way, looking forward with hope, ignoring the past completely, aside from simply knowing the facts of what happened.

In my postgraduate research, I am often having to look at past statistics involving one group of students in comparison to more recent statistics involving another group of students to see if there is any progress in their results. Of course, there is a tragic flaw in that the students are different, but in terms of research, it is apparently acceptable these days to allow this sort of comparison to take place because time-scale analysis seems to be a happening thing. When I go back to my research, I will likely need to conduct new analyses in order to bring the thesis up-to-date, but again, the tragic flaw will be there and this will need to be discussed to some extent. However, I must remember to look forward with hope; focusing on how my research can help others should be the selling point and me getting my Ph.D. is the end goal I wish to achieve. Therefore, I should only state the facts of the past, not looking backwards with pride, but instead, looking forward with the goals in mind so that I will have the hope of achieving them eventually.

With my previous job situation, I am often having to look backwards at what happened, but by stating the facts of what happened and analysing the evidence I now have, I can look forward more easily, knowing how to move forward with the hope of achieving the outcome I am seeking. The facts of history can help in planning the future, but you need to be careful as you should not look at the implications behind the facts necessarily, but rather just the facts themselves. This is, of course, a tricky situation, but the facts are there to help me move forward, so this is where I have my hope for the future in this aspect.

Am I using my French language skills these days? Definitely not. Do I regret it? No. Why not? It's because I may still end up using this in the future and I need to remain in the hope that I may still get to use it in the future.

The Canadian Cat