Name and Face Shape

Researchers have demostrated experimentally that people subconsciously expect face shapes to match the sound of a name. Students were asked to sketch the facial features of imaginary men with one of the following 15 names: Bob, Bill, Mark, Joe, Tim, John, Josh, Rick, Brian, Tom, Matt, Dan, Jason, Andy, and Justin. A second group of students were asked to name the men in the drawings.Ten out of 15 times, the students matched the faces and names correctly. As an example of facial stereotyping, it appears that 'Bob' is a round-sounding name, whereas 'Tim' is a thin, angular-sounding name.


Not smart, Stephen!

Looks like Harper failed to take note of my incisive analysis. He's off again to Afghanistan playing cozy with Karzai and pretending the Canadian role is all about humanitarianism. Tell that to the dead troops.Harper should be distancing himself from Afghanistan as quietly as he can. Instead, he's again publicly identifying himself with the war. Not smart, Stephen!


Will Stephen Harper be a one-term wonder?

Recent polls indicate that the Conservatives and the Liberals are virtually tied in popular support. After an initial surge in the spring around the time of the budget the Cons have dropped back to levels below what they achieved in the last election. While the Liberals have gained no momentum following the election of Stephane Dion, they have not plummeted further as some pundits predicted.

In the first six months of his minority government Stephen Harper was on a roll implementing his famous five priorities. He projected an aura of a knowledgeable decisive leader. Majority government seemed not only possible but probable after the next election. Contrast that with the last six months. Harper was blind-sided by the climate change issue. He bungled the first attempt to deal with it. Then he dumped Rona Ambrose and brought in a menacing pitbull, John Baird, formerly of the Harris government and widely regarded in Ontario as a heartless Minister. Baird's efforts on the climate change file have not advanced Harper's position one iota. If anything, they convey an impression of a government floundering to find its way.

The other big issue that has stuck to Harper and won't let go is Afghanistan. And Harper has made this his own file. O'Connor, Hillier and ilk do his bidding. Harper has seriously miscaculated the mood of the country. He has also alienated a lot of folks by calling anyone who questions the nature of our invovement in Afghanistan anti-patriotic or pro-Taliban. During the detainee debacle he began to look increasingly un-Prime Ministerial.

He has gone from a situation where everything was falling his way to one where the government appears to have lost its way and is at odds with the majority of Canadians on at least two major files. Moreover, both Harper and his Cabinet now come across as bullies. Who likes bullies?

Has Harper squandered his chances at a majority government? Is the best he can now hope for another minority? May even that be beyond his grasp? All things are possible of course and he may yet re-invent himself as a kindly leader with the best interests of all Canadians at heart. But don't count on it. Methinks a majority Harper government is increasingly unlikely and he will have to switch strategy to sustain a minority.


The Foreign Takeover of Canada

In a recent overview of foreign takeovers of Canadian companies David Olive pointed out that foreigners have snapped up nearly 600 Canadian firms since the start of 2006. He concludes that Canada is in industrial retreat. The recent bid for Alcan by Alcoa has brought home the message that Canadian assets and companies are for sale to the highest bidder. When even Canadian bankers are voicing concern we know the wolf is at the door.And so we head pell mell to branch plant status of the American colossus. Where is Pierre Trudeau when we need him?