The Power of Symbols

Written by Harold McNeill on April 19th, 2014. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


li-muslim-headdress-620

UPDATE MARCH 12, 2017 (Web Photo):

The recent decision (March 2017) by a senior court in the European Union to allow the banning of any religious headgear by a businesses keeps alive the myth that some types of religious headgear are more dangerous than others.

While many kinds of head coverings are popular, particularly in cold weather Canada, some coverings, the Niqab and Burqa as two examples, often evoke a strong negative reaction in Western nations. It is not the headdress; it is the context and symbolism that brings the response to those who have not taken the time to delve into the issue. Do similar debates take place in countries defined as Muslim? Check out this rather astounding discovery made while Lynn McNeill, Esther and Garth Dunn and I were traveling through the Middle East during November and December 2013.

Do similar debates take place in countries defined as Muslim? Check out a few of the astounding discoveries made while Lynn McNeill, Esther and Garth Dunn and I were traveling through the Middle East during November and December 2013.

Is it reasonable to place limitations on the wearing of religious apparel?

When traveling, if we keep our minds open, it’s easy to find the world may be defined in a manner different than that which we have been lead to believe. While a large portion of our worldview results from our prejudice, our negative views and fears are certainly enhanced by the actions of TV and print media, politicians, social media and, of course, religious groups themselves. Our family and friends also play a huge role in our evolving positive or negative views of others.

Let’s jump to an ongoing controversy that became the turning point in the recent (2013) Quebec Election – the wearing or web-quebec-charter-dos-(9)displaying of religious symbols by public servants. In 2017 it remains an issue being played out in the European Courts and pending European elections, as well as in Canada with the current Conservative Party leadership race being an example of how things can go negative if that may help a candidate to win a few more votes.

Graphic (Web Source): This chart was circulated by the PQ when they rolled out proposed changes to the Quebec Charter. The top three items would be approved. The bottom five would not. It was not long before the Niqab (the partial face covering bottom left) became the central issue. It is easy to see a between the application to different religious belief systems.  So the question, if what we wear does not interfere with what we do (within bounds), does it make any difference what we wear?

While the Quebec Charter amendment crossed the line on many points, it was the Niqab and Burqa that quickly rose to the top of the debate. This was primarily because those particular head coverings suggest the oppression of woman, something that is an anathema to basic freedoms in Canada. Mind you, over that past 150 years of our nation, we managed to accomplish the suppression fairly well without even referring to the Muslim headdress.

Never-the-less, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a relatively new document that came into being in 1982, provided our citizens with the right to practice their religion (within reasonable limits) as they see fit. It now seem’s some would prefer to limit those rights even though it conflicts with the Charter and may infringe up the rights of some women in particular. Clearly, not every country has a Charter of Rights, therefore, in those countries, and this includes within a great many religions, the equality of women is not always given the high priority it is in Canada.

It is easy to understand why this particular issue arises in Canada, as our country is made up of people from all around the world and of every religious persuasion. Never-the-less, we do amazingly well if we consider all the possible friction points that exist.

Now let’s skip back to the Middle East – Oman and Saudi Arabia in particular. In those countries, it is not hard to find women wearing full or partial face coverings (yet they are not ubiquitous). The question, do any restrictions exist?  First, look at Oman, a country ruled by a Sultan. In Oman, about half the employment is provided by the Sultanate, employment similar to our public service (e.g.teachers, government workers, hospitals, ambulance and so on).

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Tabula Rasa

Written by Harold McNeill on July 3rd, 2012. Posted in Police Notebook


tabula-rasa-kristen-lippert-martin

March 22, 2017, Updated Story (1750)

Each week across Canada dozens of domestic violence cases are reported. While the definition of domestic violence varies, it often involves a pattern of behavior where someone desires to establish power and control over another family member through physical, psychological, emotional, verbal, sexual, and/or economic abuse. The cases often remain hidden as abuse usually occurs behind closed doors with victims reluctant or not capable (e.g. a child)) of coming forward.

Police officers, health-care and social service workers are often among the first to intervene. In follow-up investigations, it usually emerges that other family members and friends were aware of what was happening, but were hesitant to become involved. The challenge for everyone is finding the ways and means to effectively intervene to protect an adult or child from what might be ongoing abuse.

As for the background causes, fingers are often pointed at families struggling to make ends meet or at cultural or religious practices, they suggest, produce the abuse.  My experience suggests the socio-economic and cultural backgrounds are as varied as is the make-up of our society. In the context of the cases outlined below, a skilled professional manipulates the minds of his wife and child in a manner that satisfies his need for control.

Tabula Rasa (Merriam-Webster): 

English speakers have called that initial state of mental blankness tabula rasa (a term taken from a Latin phrase that translates as “smooth or erased tablet”) since the 16th century, but it wasn’t until British philosopher John Locke championed the concept in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding in 1690 that the term gained widespread popularity in our language. In later years, a figurative sense of the term emerged, referring to something that exists in its original state and that has yet to be altered by outside forces.

Introduction

While watching a 1999 rerun of a Law and Order1 episode by the above title2, it struck me how the theme, minus the murder, paralleled an Oak Bay case in which I became involved 40 years earlier.

In the TV episode, the husband, a psychiatrist, had taken his two young daughters and disappeared from his wife, the girl’s mother. The man assumed a new identity for himself and the girls, then remarried. His first (legal) wife spent years searching for her children.

Fifteen years later, with the girls now in their late teens, a University Professor, who knew the couple in the early days and maintained contact with the first wife, recognized the woman’s former husband at a subway stop.  On realizing the woman might well tell his first wife, the man pushed the woman in front of an oncoming train and she was killed.  The follow-up investigation led to the man, but one of his daughters maintained it was she who had murdered the woman.

As the story unfolded in the courtroom, it became chillingly clear that both daughters and the second wife were being held under the absolute control of the husband – they were not allowed to think for themselves, nor perform a single action without first having his approval.  While the Oak Bay case was not as extreme as the TV episode, the psychological principles were precisely the same.

The Oak Bay Case

While working day shift in the Detective Office, two University of Victoria students arrived with a story to tell. They believed a twenty-year-old female friend, a classmate at University, was being mentally, and possibly physically abused by her over-controlling father. During their time in class, they learned the father was a highly skilled professional practicing in the field of psychology or psychiatry.  According to the students, every movement the girl made (who she was allowed to visit, where she went, what time she had to be home, what she studied at University, etc.) were scripted by her father. The girl always acquiesced as she felt there was no option.  The friends also felt the man’s wife was similarly controlled.

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Police Pursuit

Written by Harold McNeill on February 7th, 2012. Posted in Police Notebook


The Question of Police Pursuit

Post Updated, March 12, 2017
(Note: If you go to one of the links, please do an arrow return to the main story, as the post links feature is not creating a new tab)

While there are many factors that contribute to the decision of an officer to either continue or call off a pursuit, the accident in the above photo, which occurred on January 18, 2014, (Times Colonist News Report) might have been avoided had a police pursuit earlier in the day not been called off. The danger, of course, had the earlier pursuit continued, an equally tragic accident may have occurred.  The police were caught in that “damned if you do, damned if you damned if you don’t” dilemma.

For a police officer in pursuit, the adrenaline rush is significant. If the pursuit ends in the arrest of a suspect, that person is well advised to mind their “p’s and q’s”. If they don’t, they could easily end up on the short end of a nightstick. It’s easy, in retrospect to criticize the police. however, the situation is more complicated. This aspect of police pursuit is discussed more fully in the reference paper noted at the end of this story.

This post was originally made a few years back and is being updated here.

Police Pursuit: Public Debate and
Department Policy

Introduction

The following short stories outline various cases of police pursuit, some humorous, but most having the potential to end in tragedy either during the chase or following the chase having been called off.

In cases that end in tragedy, with the driver or passenger of the pursued vehicle, a policeman or in the worst case, an innocent third party, being injured or killed, the media devolve into a feeding frenzy.  From the police perspective, it is a tough call as there is seldom less than a few seconds to make a decision – to pursue or not to pursue. If the decision is to pursue, at what point should it be called off as being to dangerous?

Time of day, the amount of traffic, speeds involved, prior knowledge of the vehicle pursued as stolen or involved in a violent crime, and dozens of other factors all come immediately into play.  Over the course of my career I was involved in several dozen high-speed pursuits the majority of which resulted in the arrest of the driver, but on occasion, when it became too dangerous to continue, the pursuit was terminated. On a few occasions, accidents resulted when either the suspect vehicle or my police car became involved in an accident.

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Sewage Treatment: Fiction and Fact

Written by Harold McNeill on March 19th, 2017. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Capital Regional District

Collage (L to R): (T) From various web sources. Langford, Sidney, Victoria, Saanich, Highlands,
(C) Esquimalt, (Malahat), (CRD) Oak Bay, Metchosin,
(B) Colwood, Sooke, North Saanich, Central Saanich, View Royal

The reason for linking the following comments to the issues swirling around amalgamation is that dealing with sewage treatment is frequently pointed to as being one more reason amalgamation would save us from all manner of problem. Of course, that is not true, but there is no dissuading those who think amalgamation is the answer to every problem.  Previous posts on the topic of amalgamation are provided in the footer.    (This post opened to public on March 25, 2017).

March 16, 2017: The following comments were posted by Mr. Gilbert on an open Facebook page that deals with Local Government Issues in the Capital Regional District of Southern Vancouver Island. Link to the Original Post and Comments   Thanks Bryan for taking the time to provide further insight on this topic.

Bryan Gilbert:

Recently I listened to some friends talking about sewage treatment and I felt very sad to hear how uninformed they were. I don’t blame them because the media has been very one-sided on this issue. Here are ten common misunderstandings about sewage treatment with facts that are verifiable. If you can’t find the source then ask. I offer the following to inform and encourage people to check the back story before believing what we have been told:

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The Scratch and Lose Caper

Written by Harold McNeill on March 12th, 2017. Posted in Police Notebook, Tim Hortons Morning Posts


lottery-tickets_0

How to scratch open a jail cell.

At 2:00 am Sunday, or at that time any other day of the week, Greater Victoria was known as the land of “Newlyweds, Nearly Deads.” As traffic thinned during those early morning hours, the hum of the tires on a car traveling at high speed could be heard for miles. On this morning, the hum was that of an early 1960’s Oldsmobile, a machine having witnessed better days, as it sped East along Pandora, then onto Oak Bay Avenue.

The four young men inside were still hooting and hollering after partying late in one of the downtown clubs. They were now heading home to Gordon Head but having missed the Fort Street cut-off that would have taken them to Foul Bay Road then north, continued East along Oak Bay Ave. All had been drinking heavily and had no particular purpose in mind other than getting home to continue the party.IMG_0975

As they approached Foul Bay Road someone hollered: “Hey man, ya gotta turn here!” However, speed and distance would soon become limiting factors given the tank in which they were riding. The driver, his sense dulled by alcohol, braked heavily then cranked the wheel hard left. As momentum and weight took over, the tires broke away in a wide yaw that led first to the sidewalk, then to West wall of Frost’s corner store.

Photo (web) A 1960’s style Oldsmobile, 4-door.

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Understanding Trump: An Historical Perspective

Written by Harold McNeill on February 10th, 2017. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Obama and Trump

NetFlix Documentary Review: The Untold History of the United States

As with many, I am (or a least was) perplexed by how the United States managed to elect a President that, in almost every way, is the polar opposite of his predecessor, Barack Obama. After reading dozens of news articles linked by various FB friends, as well as having rooted out others from various sources, I was no further ahead. Heck, no one came close to understanding how the man managed to become President.

Almost all sought to explain the troubling aspects of Donald Trump’s ascent to power, in terms of his personality and the cult surrounding him. Of course, the same explanations, from the flip side of the coin, could be applied to Barack Obama. However, none of the explanations took into account the historical aspects of America’s ascent to world domination, both militarily and economically, over the middle part of the last century (1940 – 1960). It was a time when politics flowed out much as it has over the past two decades, with the Obama Presidency being the most peaceful interlude in decades of US hegemony.

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Canada: Who is an Immigrant?

Written by Harold McNeill on January 28th, 2017. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


Immigrants to Canada

Canada 2016: Preparing for a Citizenship Ceremony

Several newspapers and TV stations this week quoted statistics about the changing numbers of immigrants in Canada:

I867: 16.1%  How do you suppose 150 years back in time, a time when our country was being formed as a nation, only 16.1% of the population were considered to be immigrants. Other than the aboriginal people, who had yet to be afforded status in the new land they previously owned, where did the other 83.9% materialize from?

2011: 20.7%  Perhaps this number is a little more accurate, however one article was so bold as to list the children born in Canada to immigrant parents, as immigrants. Including children of immigrants in this manner is not only inaccurate, it is also inflammatory as those children are full-fledged Canadian citizens. (1)

2036: (Est): 24% – 30%). With an annual intake of 250,000 – 300,000 immigrants and refugees each year, by 2051 our population would likely level off at 40 million.  An additional 6.5 million people over the next 33 years is a very small increase.  By every measure, immigrants are not taking over our country.

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Our Schools are Failing Us

Written by Harold McNeill on February 9th, 2017. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts


CL-Cover-for-III

Photos (family files as well as from a High School buddy, Guy Venne). Yes, that’s me in the lower right (left) with another buddy, Aaron Pinsky.  Aaron’s dad’s Caddy, in which we spend many a lost night, and on the right one of our girlfriends, Dorothy Hartman. The photo centre top is three more High School buddies performing at one of the school 50’s dances that became so popular.

Are Schools Really Failing?

Never a week goes without some FB post, newspaper article or TV program lamenting the abysmal state of our education system. These discussions often spike when teachers threaten to strike, or a ‘think tank’ such as the Fraser Institute disparages public schools when comparing them to their private school counterparts, or when the government implements some policy mandating an action that is not pleasing to all.

Others rail about a lack of discipline among students or point to cell phones and texting as destroying the ability of our youth to socialize. Many suggest kids today are mollycoddled to the point of graduating without having achieved the slightest degree of competency in “reading, writing, and arithmetic.” If only, they suggest, we could get back to basics as was present in an earlier age (presumably their age).

Then, I happened upon an English Literature textbook written in 1974, in which one essay clearly articulated the criticisms being levied against students and the system “back in the day”. Some may recognize the problems as first witnessed in our misspent youth at the Cold Lake High School. The article was first published in the early 1950’s, a time when I was just entering Junior High.

(The essay was copied from the book as an online link could not be located).

Cheers,

Harold

Let’s Take Bubble Gum Out of the Schools

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The Rice Paddy

Written by Harold McNeill on November 24th, 2016. Posted in Travelogue


Boy in School3

Student at a Cambodian Country School (photo by Esther Dunn)

We had the good fortune to visit an elementary school in a remote area along one of the tributaries of the Mekong River, a place where welcoming and exuberant children could barely wait to demonstrate their English language skills. “What’s your name.” and “How old are you?” were the favourites, but that was just the opening of two hours of interaction with the students.

Lynn and I spent part of our time with a ten-year-old boy (photo above) who appeared to be the oldest in the class. Although a bit shy, he focused intensely on getting the wording of his questions correct, then intently listened as we answered. Had he been born forty years earlier, he could well have been the boy featured in part of the story below.

Part I: Introduction to SE Asia and a Short Story from Cambodia

To gain an understanding of the progress the people of Indochina have made over the past 25 years, take a few minutes first to watch the three slideshows linked in the footer. While incredible natural and manmade beauty greet you at every turn; the happy, healthy and carefree people you see at school, work and play today, contrasts sharply with immense challenges the people faced from 1940 – 1990. Perhaps you are aware of these challenges and the progress made, but we weren’t and the more we learned, the more amazing it all became.

This series begins with a short, personal story which took place in Cambodia in the late 1980’s, a story of one boy’s quest to survive. His story was similar to that experienced by thousands of men, women and children whose lives were taken or shattered by war, genocide, starvation and disease. This story was related to us over several parts by our Cambodian guide.

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The Indochina Wars: 1940 – 1990

Written by Harold McNeill on November 12th, 2016. Posted in Travelogue


Southeast Asia – Colonial Powers

Southeast AsiaPS

Colonial Powers, as listed above, played a large role in the ebb and flow of the fortunes and misfortunes of Southeast Asia from the early 1800’s onwards.  The French played a dominant role in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos and while it ended in war there are still many positive reminders of the occupation.

Part I:   Introduction and the Rice Paddy
Part II:  Indochina Wars: 1940 – 1990
Part III: Resilience of the Human Spirit (passcode required as post under revision)
Part IV:  The Future Belongs to the Young
P
art V: Travelling with Uniworld (In progress)

Part 11. Indochina Wars: 1940 – 1990

Introduction

Ordinary people do not start wars unless they are oppressed. Governments or dictators make wars with an ideological or expansionist purpose in mind. When this happens, ordinary citizens are pushed to fight whether they want to or not. This was no better expressed than in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade”:

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”p18aCharge of the Light Brigade
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
    Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.   

Such was the case in Indochina where not six hundred, but an estimated 8000 times that many would be driven into the valley of death. The Viet Nam or Second Indochina War, was just the second part of fifty years of war that began when the Japanese occupied French Indochina in 1940. Following the departure of the Japanese and the French again occupied, then Communist North Viet Nam (formed in 1945 after the war) (3), began a push to remove the French who resumed their Colonial control status that was ceded to the Japenese for a few years.   One occupying force simply replaced another.

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Resilience of the Human Spirit

Written by Harold McNeill on November 7th, 2016. Posted in Travelogue


Buddhism Dance

These young women were part of a group of Cambodian folk dancers who performed during our time in Siem Reap. The gentle movement of these dancers and their male counterparts was mesmerizing and clearly express the inner strength and peacefulness of the people.

Photos in these albums were selected from those taken mainly by Esther and Harold. In a few cases, representative photos selected from the Web.

November 11, 2016:  Least We Forget
Remembrance Day in Canada (Link Here)
Veterans Day in the United States  (Link Here)

Part I:   The Rice Paddy
Part II:  Indochina Wars: 1940 – 1990
Part III: Resilience of the Human Spirit
Part IV  The Future Belongs to the Young

Part V    Cruising the Mekong with Uniworld   (being written)   December 4.  This part was split off to Part V. Part IV is being readjusted.

Part III: Resilience of the Human Spirit

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  • McNeill Life Stories Illegal Aliens intercepted in Sarnia - McNeill Life Stories

    August 23, 2016 |

    […] Maxime Bernier, a leading contender in the Conservative race is calling for a “wall to be built along the border and claims that if he becomes the next Prime Minister he will force the Americans to pay for the building of that wall. (Border Security Gone Crazy) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories Keep the peace and be of Good Behaviour - McNeill Life Stories

    August 21, 2016 |

    […] If you happen to support Bill C-51, a bill that is related solely to ‘terrorism’ and, perhaps, support an even more invasive laws being included, what would you think about the entire Bill (present and proposed) being folded back into the Criminal Code and made applicable to every Canadian?  Would that give our police to much power to simply bypass checks and balances developed over the past 150 years. (Oversight) […]

  • Maurice Smook

    August 13, 2016 |

    Hi Jillian,

    I don’t know if you are still checking this site but I had to respond again. February of 2017 it will be 72 years since this battle occurred.

    What caught my attention about this incident was on the Go Deep Documentary that aired on the History Channel. First of all I never known that this battle having ever occurred.

    According to my grade 3 teacher WW2 had never occurred. That grade 3 teacher stated that the WW2 and the holocaust was all propaganda. All of my classmates they believed her. I hate to say this but all I knew was that soldiers shooting at each other.

    I almost was expelled from school. My

    Mom my Dad my brother and my Uncle would have been arrested for propaganda. I paid the price. It was ironic a grade 5 teacher told me that Smooks are all commies. Dad was Conservative.

    All the Smooks that I known are all Conservative. If I had the money I would have loved to sue those two teachers.

    As I said I never heard of this Battle. If it were not for that program I would have never had known.

    I started to do more researching to find out more about the history of this battle. The narrator of Go Deep mentioned the names of the pilots who died that battle.

    I missed 20 minutes of that program but the camera crew had the camera’s pointed towards the sign with the names of the deceits. That is how I known.

    According to the narrator There are three who are still missing. W.J. Jackson, Harry Smook and A. Duckworth. A couple of months ago the staff of Go Deep have located Harry and A. Duckworths aircraft. This is on you tube. Harry and A. Duckworth craft is approx 650 feet deep in the Fjord. The individual who is heading this expansionary mission made it known he will not rest until all three of the missing pilots
    will be retrieved. I am sure that A. Duckworth’s kin are hoping for the same.

    What really puzzles me is that I have sent emails to the Smooks. Not one ever replying. I presume its the same with you. Sad. Dad rarely spoke about his family. It appears there is a big secret of the Smooks. I too assume Harry is a kin to my Dad. Harry maybe a 4th 5th cousin to my Dad. I too would like to know. Harry and A. Duckworth served and died for our country. The other is W.j. Jackson – who is also still missing – having died for our Country.

    In conclusion I still ask myself why is this a huge secret.

    If you are still checking this site please contact me. Maybe we may be kin.

    Take care.

  • McNeill Life Stories Wedding Bells: Gordon McLean and Megan Corns

    June 28, 2016 |

    […] More amazing still is that many of those I met are now living and working in communities in or near cities and towns where I spent much of my early life (e.g. Vermillion, Turtleford, Westlock, Edmonton, etc.) For that matter one family from Edmonton lives no more than a stones throw from the home in which my family lived in 1949 at 12237, 95th Street, a time when Edmonton boasted a population of 137,000 and our home was on the very west edge of the city. Today the next block contains the Yellow Head Highway. Link: http://www.mcneillifestories.com/mcneill-family-edmonton/ […]

  • Valerie Heuman (Roddick)

    June 19, 2016 |

    Having just returned to the Okanagan Valley from a weekend in Pibroch, I am delighted to have stumbled on your blog to see the picture of the main street. My aunt and uncle Peggy & Gordon McGillvery owned and lived in the old Post Office on the North east corner of the main intersection and my brother Adrian currently lives south a bit backing on the School yard. We are Sheila’s cousins and still have a close connection to the town.

  • Sheila(Roddick) Allison

    May 19, 2016 |

    Hi. So fun to find your blog. I remember going to school with you and Louise. I loved my childhood in Pibroch which incidentally was named by my grandfather Aaron Roddick. I will never forget the night the garage burned down. Nice to see the landmark photo before the big fire!

  • George Dahl

    April 12, 2016 |

    What a great site. I’m trying to locate a woman named Sally Jennifer who was from the Cold Lake area back in the early sixties. I met her when I was stationed at Namao air base in Edmonton. I was serving with the USAF 3955 air refueling squadron from rhe fall 1963 till the spring of 64. Sally was 22 at the time I was 21. Sally was my first love. I had orders to ship out to South East Asia and we lost contact after that.
    If any of you know the where abouts of Sally I would like to get reacquainted with her. She is First Nation, Blackfoot I believe. She is Catholic and may have attended a Catholic school in Cold Lake.
    Thank You in advance, George Dahl

  • dave armit

    March 23, 2016 |

    good old fashioned police work done by good old fashioned policemen……….in regards to mr cain..i learned a few years ago that he was born on the same day in the same hospital that i was..my father was a close friend of the cain family…!!! interesting..d a

  • Joyce McMenamon

    March 1, 2016 |

    Haha, love it! We should probably eat rats and rabbits rather than beef. Also I’ve noticed that there are a lot less pests where dogs are not kept on leashes.

  • Kari

    February 27, 2016 |

    Thanks for a wonderful trip down memory lane Dad!!! That was an amazing trip and I am so glad that we had the opportunity to share that experience together!
    ❤️