Canada created 144 years ago today

Today marks the 144th anniversary of the passage of the British North America Act, which created the Dominion of Canada. Spurred by a diminishing reserve of quality agricultural land for homesteaders, the growing military might of the United States, and the desire to create an internal trade market, the drive toward confederation was led by a trio of politicians: George Brown, John Macdonald, and George-Étienne Cartier. The three met with leaders from the Maritimes, and, over the following years, a union began to take shape.

The Act joined Canada West, Canada East, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick as “one Dominion under the name of Canada,” and it acted as Canada’s constitution until 1982. As Britannica details:

The British North America Act conferred on the new dominion a constitution “similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom.” The executive government was vested in Queen Victoria and her successors. These two provisions meant that Canada would have parliamentary and cabinet government. The legislature was to consist of a Senate, its members appointed for life from the regions of Canada, and a House of Commons elected from the provinces on the principle of representation by population. The act provided that criminal law should be federal and civil law provincial. The federal government was to appoint all senior judges, the provinces to administer the laws and maintain the courts. The act also authorized establishment of a Supreme Court of Canada.

The act also created the provinces of Ontario (from Canada West) and Quebec (from Canada East). A great deal of autonomy was granted to the Francophone community in Quebec to ensure the preservation of its traditions and way of life.

via Britannica Blog.

The myth of multitasking

One study (…) found that workers took an average of twenty-five minutes to recover from interruptions such as phone calls or answering e-mail and return to their original task.

Estimated cost to the U.S. economy from loss of productivity: $650 billion annually.

[W]e are really talking about attention: the art of paying attention, the ability to shift our attention, and, more broadly, to exercise judgment about what objects are worthy of our attention. People who have achieved great things often credit for their success a finely honed skill for paying attention. When asked about his particular genius, Isaac Newton responded that if he had made any discoveries, it was “owing more to patient attention than to any other talent.” (the New Atlantis)

Bill Gates is impatient

“I’m an optimist, but I’m an impatient optimist,” he said during his speech. “The world is not getting better fast enough, and it’s not getting better for everyone.”

Coupled with the $33 billion foundation that he has set up with his wife, Melinda, the new Gates philosophy is a radical shift from the world view he evinced during several decades as a fierce competitor in the personal-computer software industry. (New York Times)

A $33 billion foundation funded with one’s own fortune is laudable indeed. And a skeptic would wonder at which billion of his personal net worth Mr. Gates became impatient for the welfare of others.

More importantly, however, is figuring out -for oneself, mostly- what one can do when one’s impatience does not come with a $33 billion foundation.

Need a scapegoat? Pull a Candlewood

[William Candlewood] used to write rejection letters to authors. He was also the whipping boy. If something fouled up at New Directions it was always blamed on Candlewood. The apology letters said he would be fired immediately.We suspect a lot of companies end up doing something similar, especially those in tight-knit industries where personal relationships count for a lot.

Following the example of Oscar Wilde’s to Bunbury, we suggest that whenever you punish a made-up person [that’s right! William Candlewood does NOT exist] to impress a client or give a false name over the phone to an irate customer you have Candlewooded, or pulled a Candlewood. (The Informed Reader – WSJ.com)

The inconvenient fiscal truth

Taken together, the unfunded national commitments, including the national debt, future obligations on entitlement programs, and other commitments such as pensions, that fiscal exposures are $50.5 trillion or $170,000 for every man, woman, and child. The United States fiscal inconvenient truth should feel especially weighty for those in Generation X, Generation Y, and the generations to follow because according to the GAO, the total fiscal burden over the next 75 years represents $400,000 for every full-time worker in the United States and $440,000 per household.

“If we [the United States] were a company, we would be out of business.” (The Huffington Post)