Thursday, July 17, 2008

To Complain...

Why don't people complain? I'm not referring to the always annoying people who mindlessly complain about trivial matters that they can easily fix; for instance people who complain 'it's cold outside' when it is in the middle of a Canadian winter. What I'm referring to is why don't people make a fuss about big problems in our lives?

The problems in this world are numerous, and yet most people feel content to live with them. Sure people gripe to one another about such problems, but they are not willing to actually do something about it. To be fair, where should one start by addressing such 'big' problems. We hear that we can always write or phone our elected official. Seniors are the ones most likely to do this, and even then they are just lonely and likely content with the way things are. Additionally, I doubt the elected official really cares about one person as opposed to a scenario where multitudes of people would complain at once.

What else can one do? Well some say protest. I doubt this does anything either. Sure there was a lot of protesting during the 60's through the 80's about everything from independence for Quebec, ending the Vietnam war, promoting civil rights, ending nuclear productions, and etc. Did any of these protests work? Hard to say, but they probably did very little. The fact is that it is the young who protest and it is the old who make the governmental policy decisions. The old are also the ones who vote the old into office, not the young. So if many young people protest, what weight do their threats carry?

Today people find refuge in entertainment. Movies tell of us these great David vs. Goliath fights. A new movie is coming out about this called "A Flash of Genius". It is about a man who invents automatic windshield blades but has his invention stolen by Ford. He sues them. This happens in the 1960's. This is a common theme in entertainment for North America. Apparently these stories only occur in the years between 1960-1980 something. There are many movies like this that make this time period out to be some magical entity where people could band together in a common goal and achieve their wish. It was a time of the Tyranny of the Majority and not the Minority. Rarely does the media promote stories about people performing incredible feats in today's society. Instead we are encouraged to roll over and press play.

You could run for office. The most affective way of invoking change is to invoke it yourself through entering politics, or so they say. Where are the young people in politics and who are they? Well.... they have money. They are not a representation of the majority but rather the minority. I also doubt that they differ all that much from the older guard. Truly, these 'young' politicians are brandied about as a face and not so much for showing their ideals. An example. Justin Trudeau (pictured left). I admit I do not know too much about this man, but enough to form some level of an opinion. He was the son of the infamous Premier of Canada during the 1960's; he gave Canada the need of taxes because he ran the country into so much debt, but then he also gave the country many social programs that became cherished. Justin slowly entered politics over the last ten years, culminating a few years ago in being elected to Parliament. He is a Roman Catholic. He is also 'close' to French communities and their perceived needs. He won his riding as a liberal. He is also an actor, appearing in a mini-series on CBC television. He also went across Canada giving talks about what 'young' people can do about Canada. These talks occurred about 3 years ago and at the time I was interested in attending. I never made it because it would cost well over $100. This is strange since his talk was addressing young people, but how many 'young' people would have over $100 to spend on listening to his talk? And yet Justin is now a politician, a 'young' politician, who should be addressing 'new' issues and making change in the government. No hope there I am afraid. It would seem that the average 'young' person is not as likely to enter politics as much as a 'young' person with connections and the motivation to not 'rock the boat' of the older ways.

So how can people complain effectively? They can protest, contact their local politician, or become a politician themselves. Are there more? Yes, by making money and power. Or so it seems to a cynic. Maybe there is another way.....

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wattle and Daub

Wattle and Daub

A small house crumbles along the eastern slopes of the Cypress Hills. This house, built in the early 1900s, is a relic of Saskatchewan's past. Immigrants from Europe entered the Northern Plains because of the pull of British policies and the push of European practices. The first migrants were ranchers. Their cattle wandered across this hilly landscape, blind to political boundaries much like the bison that had once called this land their home. First Nations also thrived in this country, but they are another, much longer story.

This house may or may not have been a rancher's home. It may instead have been home to a homesteader, a farmer of various crops like rye and wheat.
The house has spartan interiors of wooden frames and iron stoves. Disheveled cots and various goods ordered from the Eatons' catalog or purchased after long journey to the nearby HBC post.
Now, animals and time have taken up residence here. The soil and vegetation seep through the floor boards. The sunlight peers in and bleaches the timber. The iron stove rusts.

The prairie grasses reclaim the area around the house. A garden may have once laid at the foot of this building. Now there is only the slumpage of soil from the gentle slope the runs to the house's west. Once this hill would have blocked the winds and snows from inundating the house. Now it runs free.
Was there a fence here? Hard to say. There is a slough just to the south of the house. Just a few steps away really. Mosquitoes must have been a nuisance during warmer months. Wildlife must have also been visible from the small square windows. Wildlife such as wolves and bears were seldom seen during the turn of the century because of ranchers protecting their cattle. For instance various traps and animal carcasses were laced with poison with the hope that a carnivore such as a wolf or fox would eat the animal and later die. Wolf skins were especially prized as companies offered fair prices for such furs. Now such animals as the bear and swift fox are extinct in Saskatchewan. The cattle, however, are safe. Provided that beef prices remain stable.

Hard work went into constructing this house. Waddle and daub was used to construct the walls. Trees from the area were cut and trimmed to be placed in lengthwise fashion. Mud was layered over top the logs to seal the walls. Banches were then pushed into the mud and more mud was added. Finally, white paint was then lathered over the walls. This house retains none of the paint and only little of the mud, but this house is likely no exception to this description.

So this is one of the neat things I've found while doing archaeological surveys around the Cypress Hills. Lots more though, but too much to mention at one go.