Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Alberta Political Landscape Has Changed

In my most recent comment on Alberta politics I said the following;

The Alberta Party needs to dramatically increase their efforts if they hope to make an impact on the Alberta Political scene. If they do hope to be a credible alternative they will have to plan for the next election, not the upcoming one. The caveat here is the Nenshi Campaign for Mayor in Calgary. Can the Alberta Party create the enthusiasm that was created for Nenshi and make a remarkable surge? And so it goes….

Well it appears they have dramatically increased their efforts.

The acquisition of Dave Taylor is a tremendous boost to the new kids on the block, now they need the "Nenshi Effect" and no telling what can happen.

In the last few days during intense negotiations in support of Taylor's move I became invigorated, felt like a kid again back in the 60's, I hope it lasts.

For the record, I am a Dave Taylor supporter, I know him, I trust him and I will help him as he requires.

I trust all of this will lead to a change in Alberta politics, God knows we all need and deserve it.

To the stars and beyond!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Great Moments in Apple History

The Beginning—From the very beginning the ancients were truly enamoured with fruit. Apart from milk and honey, fruit is nature's only pleasure laden natural food. From the beginning apples have been associated with love, beauty, luck, health, comfort, pleasure, wisdom, temptation, sensuality, sexuality, virility and fertility. Stories and traditions about man's origins connect him to a garden of paradise filled with fruit trees. The stories are essentially the same whether it be the Semitic Adam, the Teutonic Iduna, the Greek Hesperides, or the Celtic Avalon, man's idea of paradise centers on an abundance of cultivated fruit, its sensual irresistibility and the consequential calamity of its seduction.

In Greek mythology, Gaia, or Mother Earth, presented a tree with golden apples to Zeus and his bride Hera on their wedding day. Guarded by Ladon, a serpent who never slept, the apple tree was in the garden of the Hesperides, daughters of the Evening Star. These golden apples became involved with many tales of love, bribery and temptation ranging from the abduction of Helen of Troy to the defeat and marriage of Atlanta. The sexual and romantic connotations of the apple were powerful reasons why apples came as dessert at the end of the meal. They not only tasted heavenly and were good for digestion but were regarded as a cunning transitional aphrodisiac for the pleasures that followed. Is it any wonder that apples became the most sought after fruit on earth? They have taken their rightful place in the pleasure gardens of the wealthy throughout the world in spite of the almost instinctive knowledge that eating them may lead one to a life of chaos and destruction.

8,000 B.C.—Nomadic hunter/gatherer societies invent agriculture and begin to "settle" in places throughout the "fertile crescent" from the Nile through the Tigris and Euphrates, the Indus, and Yellow River Valleys. As both trade and military expeditions begin among these earliest civilizations, dessert apples quickly spread from the forests of their origin in the Tien Shan mountains of eastern Kazakstan throughout the "civilized" world. Each settlement seeks to embellish their "paradise" or pleasure grounds with the most tempting apples of the forests. Previously isolated gene pools from some of the 25 distinctly different species of apples found throughout the world are now brought in contact with each other and gene transfer among apple species occurs. Agriculturalists are charmed. Naturalists are alarmed.

6,500 B.C.—Remains of apples are found among excavations at Jericho in the Jordan Valley and dated to this time period.

5,000 B.C.—Feng Li, a Chinese diplomat, gives up his position when he becomes consumed by grafting peaches, almonds, persimmons, pears and apples as a commercial venture according to "The Precious Book of Enrichment", part I, chapt. 4. Agriculturalists are charmed. Naturalists are alarmed.

2500 B.C.—Dried apple slices are found on saucers in the tomb of Queen Pu-Abi at Ur near Basara, in Southern Iran, linking royalty to the irresistible seduction of apples.

1500 B.C.—A tablet found in northern Mesopotamia records the sale of an apple orchard by Tupkitilla, an Assyrian from Nuzi, for the significant sum of 3 prized breeder sheep. Hittite Law Codes specify a three shekel penalty for anyone allowing a fire to destroy an apple orchard.

800 B.C.—Homer's Odyssey recounts the memory of his fruit orchard to his aging father:

"12 pear trees bowing with their pendant load,
and ten, that red with blushing apples glow'd". . .

and later tells about how King Tantalus was "tantalized" by the unreachable "fruit over his head: pears, pomegranates, sweet figs, apples and juicy olives".

401 B.C.—Greek historian and essayist, Xenophon is so inspired by walled fruit gardens throughout the Persian empire that he establishes one on his own estate in Greece. He then proceeds to coin a new Greek word from the Persian pairidaeza, or walled garden, later becoming the Latin paradisus, and finally the English paradise.

323 B.C.—Theophrastos describes 6 varieties of apples and discusses why budding, grafting, and general tree care are required for optimum production and says seeds almost always produce trees of inferior quality fruit. Agriculturalists are charmed, naturalists are alarmed.

200 B.C.—Latin emerges from a localized dialect in Central Italy to a full and precise language still used in biology, law, medicine, and religion. The Latin "Fruor" meaning "I delight in" is the source of our word "fruit".

100 B.C.—Roman poet Horace notes that Italy has nearly become one big fruit orchard and the perfect meal begins with eggs and ends with apples. Apples moved west with the rise of the Roman empire as the Romans adopted the apples and orchard skills of the Greeks and Persians before them. They proceeded to carry apples to the far reaches of the Roman Empire including continental Europe and the British Isles where previously only crab apples were known. They even created a deity of the fruit trees, the goddess Pomona. Like the Persians and the Greeks, the Romans and many cultures since have responded to the basic human longing for a time and place where men and women are free from the battle with nature for food and shelter. This place is normally symbolized by a garden of paradise and pleasure complete with fruit laden trees featuring apples.

50 B.C.—Cicero, author, statesman, and philosopher urges his Roman countrymen to save their apple seeds from dessert to develop new cultivars. Agricultuaralists and naturalists concur.

50 A.D.—J.M. Columella, a Spaniard living in Rome, an early fruit tester and stickler for quality noted that each fruit seedling was a new and unique cultivar "none to be kept for a long time unless approved by experiment", an otherwise post-Linnean conclusion. To illustrate his point he adapted a verse from Virgil:

It serves no end their* numbers to describe,
The man that's fond of this laborious task,
With equal ease, may learn how many sands,
By western winds are tossed in Libyan plains.
(*i.e. seedling cultivars)

79 A.D.—Pliny the Elder in his Natural History describes 20 varieties of apples.

200 A.D.—Famous Greek physicians living in Rome, Galen and later Hippocrates, recommend sweet apples with meals as aids to digestion and sour apples only for fainting and constipation.

400 A.D.—Saint Jerome, founder of Monasticism, tells his monks to spend more time grafting and budding fruit trees "to escape sloth and the devil".

650 A.D.The Koran, codified by Caliph Utman hails fruit as a sublime gift of God.

900 A.D.—A sacred Shiite drama is written by a secret society of Moslem purists featuring the death of Mohammed in which he inhales eternal life by inhaling the scent of an apple an angel had brought him. Curiously, many centuries earlier, Aristoteles was said to have kept death away by holding an apple and inhaling its life sustaining fragrance. Finally and consciously he drops the apple thus releasing his soul.

1100 A.D.—The Medical School of Salerno teaches the therapeutic value of apples with regard to disturbances of the bowels, lungs and nervous systems.

1240 A.D.—Albertus Magnus of Cologne, bishop, naturalist, and influential philosopher, agonizes in his De Vegetabilibus over whether a fruit tree has a soul. Albertus' then novel philosophy is that the only way to advance knowledge of nature is by searching for nature's hidden principles rather than by relying on the writings of others, however venerable. Discarding the scholastic concept of fruit as a ready-made product of creation, Albertus held that cultivars developed from wild forms, centuries before Darwin draws similar conclusions about the origin of species.

1470 A.D.The Fall of Man, a painting by the popular and highly respected Hugo Van Der Goes, in clear detail of both leaves and fruit, depicts an apple tree in the biblical Garden of Eden complete with Adam and Eve and the Devil. Thereafter artists everywhere choose apples for the Garden of Eden, even though the apples were no doubt borrowed from a similar creation story in Greek mythology, causing apple demand among illiterate Christians to plummet. Among learned Christians, e.g. in the monasteries and royal courts, apples continued to flourish.

1618 A.D.—William Lawson of Yorkshire, writes A New Orchard and Garden, the first book in the English language about the practical aspects of apple growing. He is more often quoted on his sensual observations. "All delight in orchards". "For whereas every other pleasure fills some one of our senses, and that only with delight, this makes all senses swim in pleasure". "What can your eyes desire to see, your ears to hear, your mouth to taste, your nose to smell that is not to be had in an orchard, with abundance of variety." Two mottos appear on the title page; "Skill and paines bring fruitful gaines" and "No man is an island". Lawson who believed orcharding offered the best of business and pleasure had a profound influence on the Lynd family of Yorkshire.

1665 A.D.—Sir Isaac Newton watches an apple fall to the ground and, wondering why it fell in a straight line, is inspired to discover the laws of gravitation and motion.

1751 A.D.—Carl Von Linne, founder of organized Botany, revealed his contempt for horticulture when he said "All our fruit trees are a result of Man's interference and, therefore, unworthy of the attention of even the lowliest botanist". Agriculturalists groaned. Naturalists applauded.

1790 A.D.—Thomas Andrew Knight of England begins the first controlled apple hybridization program for apple improvement. Agriculturalists are charmed and naturalists are alarmed.

1904 A.D.—"An apple a day keeps the doctor away", proclaimed J.T. Stinson in an address to the St. Louis Expositon.

1929 A.D.—Edward Bunyard, author of "The Anatomy of Dessert", comments on apples and the 6th sense "the crunch is the thing, a certain joy in crashing through living tissue, a memory of Neanderthal days".

1945 A.D.—An apple breeding program is initiated jointly at Purdue and the University of Illinois using F2-26829-2-2 the largest and highest quality apple known at the time to have resistance to the big three diseases of apples, fireblight, scab and powdery mildew. It came from a brilliant, out of the box, cross made by Dr. C. S. Crandall at the Univ. of Ill. earlier in the 1900s who crossed Rome with Malus floribunda 821, a pea sized crab apple that was highly resistant to all the major diseases of apple.

1988 A.D.—The great Alar controversy arises while toxicology experts on both sides argue. Apple growers are caught in the middle as apple demand falls to zero and the media rushes to report one sensationalized story after another about harmless, nearly non existent chemical residues on apples. Perception overrides reality and the U.S. apple industry goes into a steep economic decline. It is the year of peak apple production for Lynd Fruit Farm Inc. at 240,000 bushels. The consequential losses were enormous.

1989 A.D.—Researchers at Cornell University used a "gene gun" to successfully transfer an anti-bacterial gene from a Cecropia moth to a fireblight susceptible apple tree. This gene transfer from an animal to a plant enabled the tree to develop its own fireblight resistance and trees made from buds or graft wood from this tree also had blight resistance. Bio-tech as demonstrated could save the apple industry and consumers millions of dollars. Agricultualists are charmed. Naturalists are alarmed.

1993 A.D.—The world's first large scale commercial planting of naturally disease resistant apples is planted at Lynd Fruit Farm, on Morse Rd., Pataskala, Ohio. The trees then known as HER4T16 are later elevated to "Co-op 38" and finally named Goldrush. It is the first large scale application of the breeding program begun early in this century at the University of Ill. Agriculturalists and naturalists applaud.

1995 A.D.—Mitch Lynd named Apple Grower of the Year by the American Fruit Grower Magazine and the U.S. Apple Association from over 9,000 apple growers in the U.S and Canada.

1998 A.D.—Mitch Lynd and co-founder Ed Fackler start the Mid West Apple Improvement Association, a group dedicated to breeding disease resistant late bloomers to naturally escape fire blight, scab, powdery mildew, cedar apple rust and late spring freezes thus reducing the use of fungicides, antibiotics, and orchard heating. Agriculturalists and naturalists applaud and chemical companies cringe. Land grant colleges of agriculture are in a bind because increasingly their funding comes from pesticide manufacturers instead of the people through taxation and charitable giving.

2000 A.D.—Researchers at the University of California discover powerful new anti-oxidants in apples.

With the assistance of Mitch Lynd

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Alberta Politics May Get Interesting

Hello from Oman. I have been watching the Alberta political scene for several months from afar, having arrived in the Sultanate of Oman the 24th of October last year.

I prepared some comments for your edification and am prompted to publish now based on the recent comments by Ken Chapman on the matter of Raj Sherman (http://ken-chapman.blogspot.com/2011/01/what-raj-sherman-should-do-and-why.html).

Therefore, while I want to discuss the action or inaction of all of the provincial political parties, I will also be commenting on Ken Chapman’s piece.

First, allow me to reference those who feel the need to do a little research.

On October 21st, 2009 in my Blog, Donn to Dusk (http://donntodusk.blogspot.com) I wrote The Future of Alberta Politics – One Person’s Opinion (http://donntodusk.blogspot.com/2009/10/future-of-alberta-politics-one-persons.html). In this piece I discussed the political Centre in Alberta Politics and the advantage of capturing that ground.

Then on February 3rd, 2010 I wrote, The Liberals Have Their Chance to Make It Right (Centre (http://donntodusk.blogspot.com/2010/02/here-is-httpwww.html). Essentially what they needed to do to capture the centre and failed.

Both of these suggested that Albertans by-and-large exist in the political centre. This may explain why we only see a 40% voter turnout; at present, no party represents the views of the majority of Albertans.

So let’s discuss the current status of the various political parties.

Progressive Conservative Party (PCs)

The PCs exist in a world best described as follows;

Imagine the older couple living in the mansion on the hill with servants preparing their meals and cleaning the house. They are always having guests to dinner to discuss matters of concern only to them. After the meal the men retire to a room to drink a little brandy, smoke a cigar and discuss the power they hold. The women retire to another room to sip sherry and discuss matters that, in fact, the men neither understand nor really care about, perhaps healthcare, education, etc…

Sometimes people appear on the lawn and raise their voices, while disturbing to the people in the house, as long as they do not break things or crap on the grass, they are tolerated. This is the political opposition in Alberta.

So the reality is, the Tories are out of touch with what Albertans care about, have an entitlement thought process and are ill-prepared to fight any real, organized and serious opposition. This is reflected in recent polling and in the accurate reflections of Janet Brown and her seat projection model. Presently, the PCs are on the cusp of majority and minority, with the Wildrose in opposition.

Wildrose Alliance Party (WAP)

In keeping with the mansion scenario WAP started out as a protest Party, jumping up and down on the lawn and screaming that the PCs were not in touch with the people albeit those people on the far right. Having learned the futility of that behavior WAP is beginning to understand the discussion of the Centre, where most Albertans live.

Therefore, Wildrose, having effectively captured support in the more right-wing rural constituencies is now in mind to moderate their appearance in order to capture support in the urban centres. Once again, the way to capture the support of Albertans is through the Centre.

In my estimation, this is a major trend to watch in the coming months leading to the next provincial election.

Alberta Liberal Party (ALP)

Once again, the ALP protested on the lawn of the mansion after they actually discovered where the PCs lived. However, they were more concerned about whether the water they were drinking came from a tap or was the awful bottled water so dramatically bad for the environment to discuss what Albertans really cared about.

They also spent more time trying to arrange the timing on the lawn with their friends from the New Democrats rather than examining what Albertans wanted to talk about.

One member of the ALP figured out if he talked to Albertans about matters they wanted to discuss, they would engage. Once he figured this out, he also figured out The Alberta Liberal Party would never get to that point and decided to sit as an Independent.

Recently, the ALP dismissed their mouthpiece but unless substantial communication changes are made their future is bleak,

New Democrats (NDs)

When the NDs go on the lawn to protest, they scream so loud no one understands what they are saying.

They have a firm grip on the left, not interested in moving off that position and one can argue that of all the parties, they are true to their support base. They do not appeal to a significant number of Albertans to make a major change in their status.

Alberta Party (AP)

The Alberta Party is work in progress and it will be interesting to see what they become when they grow up.

At present, they are too new to cause any major disruption in Alberta politics more than the writings of the pundits lacking anything else to say. Frustrated Liberals have moved to the Alberta party leaving the ALP with a membership base of 2 or 3 thousand members. Since the Alberta Party membership seems to be only a few hundred, my sense is that Liberals are still looking for an alternative.

The AP has a long way to go and any person getting involved needs to have the time, energy and inclination to build a new party in Alberta, not an easy task.

Where are we headed and what will happen between now and March 2012, the expected timing for the next provincial election.

The Tories will struggle with who they are and what to do to maintain power. Their Achilles heel is healthcare. Fix it or fight the next election on healthcare. I am not convinced they can recover.

Wildrose will continue to attempt to moderate their party to appeal to the urban voters while not upsetting the rural support they have managed to capture, an interesting balancing act and the major show for the view of the political junkie in Alberta. The easiest way to achieve moderation is to bring Raj Sherman in Edmonton and Dave Taylor in Calgary into the Party.

Will they be successful? Time will tell!

The Alberta Liberal Party is on life support. The dumping of the Communication Director is a step in the right direction. The next major decision needs to be; change the Leader, either physically or otherwise so from the perspective of Alberta voters the leadership understands what it is that Albertans want to discuss. Personally, I am not holding my breath.

The New Democrats want to be called when all changes are complete, they are fine and no changes required from their side.

The Alberta Party needs to dramatically increase their efforts if they hope to make an impact on the Alberta Political scene. If they do hope to be a credible alternative they will have to plan for the next election, not the upcoming one. The caveat here is the Nenshi Campaign for Mayor in Calgary. Can the Alberta Party create the enthusiasm that was created for Nenshi and make a remarkable surge? And so it goes….

Now to Ken Chapman: Any direct comments from Ken’s piece will be highlighted.

Ken states the obvious up-front, this is a non-scientific sampling of 174 self-selecting anonymous people. I suspect even more so the respondents are Alberta Party supporters grasping at the notion that Raj may join them.

From here we see the next obvious step, attack your enemy as being the worst possible thing that could happen to Alberta and Albertans. Hence his comment, The Wildrose is a political force with a core of supporters. The Wildrose is a political force with a core of supporters. My sense is their protest support is as deep as a dime and there is a lingering mistrust that pervades them. They have a history and we are not sure what they really stand for anymore. We are cautious about what the strong social conservative element might do to Alberta, once in power.

He then goes on to add the following; Look at Bill 44 that targeted homosexuals and teachers as an example of social conservative influence on politics and policy. In this case this was a Bill coming from the very party that Ken belonged to for many years; however let’s try to make it appear that this was a Wildrose initiative.

Although there is little evidence to support this Wildrose position on healthcare Ken adds, despite protest to the contrary, no thoughtful observer of the Wildrose Alliance Party could conclude that they would not also privatize health care...once in power. They are not stupid. Ken, if in fact, you believe they are not stupid why you would suggest WAP would move to privatize healthcare if Albertans do not support the initiative is a tremendous leap?

Then he jumps to the conspiracy theory approach by suggesting that, they will campaign on a middle of the road policy platform but their behind-the-scenes brain trust is pure Stephen Harper.

Now we can discus Chapman’s wooing of Raj Sherman to the Alberta Party. Initially he defeats his own argument by stating that as for the NDP, you can't fix health care with influence alone, you need power. So to extend this thought Ken must believe that the Alberta Party will form the next Government, I suggest not. To continue to defeat his argument Ken makes the following comment, The Liberal Party is a definite option for Raj to consider. Ken, if power is what Raj needs why would he align himself with the ALP?

Now to his rationale for Raj joining the Alberta Power; The Alberta Party is new. In fact it is so new that it is just now forming constituency organizations all over the province, and is just starting its leadership process. He adds, by joining the Alberta Party he can shift public attention, trigger some imagination and bring a new meaning to political participation in our province. What he really suggesting is that Raj Sherman can spend all of his energies building a new party and forget about his initiatives in healthcare.

Then back to the comments about the Devil; The Ayn Rand inspired, Libertarian influenced Wildrose Alliance Party conjures some serious suspicions about their real political intentions and where they would take us if they had power. Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my or the ever popular paranoid argument that the sky is falling.

Finally Chapman suggests; So what is Raj Sherman going to do? My advice is stay independent for a bit and go out and talk to Albertans as a non-partisan. Great suggestion but how does he do this if folks like you publically make the case he is joining the Alberta Party, huh?

Now I get to make suggestions. Ken and I agree on initial timing, Raj Sherman and Dave Taylor should remain as Independents, co-operate on issues where they can and seen to be above the fray of nasty politics. However, as we get closer to the next election consideration needs to be made with respect to joining a political party. At this time it’s a matter of Let’s Make a Deal.

Will they stay as Independents, join the Alberta Party and continue in the oblivion of Alberta politics albeit feeling the warmth of waving at the windmill or will they succumb to the opportunity to make a difference within Government and join the Wildrose. Time will tell!

One Person’s Opinion