Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas From Soviet Russia!

In Russia, you only get Vodka and Santa takes your gifts.



If you haven't sent out your holiday cards yet (HURRY! Time's almost up) then please use this link to print your own Soviet era Russian Christmas greetings.




Happy non-denominational festive season


Dear reader,

Some of the authors of Ottawa Beige are leaving the city for a while over the festive season. I'll be taking a break (to which you're probably saying "Break!?!? You never freaking write, Umar!") to small town Eastern Ontario, myself, and will not be doing much of anything until I get back.

Leaving the city for a few days will remind us that in spite of having a Mayor who's been charged with a very serious crime (and knowing that 47% of our neighbours voted for the guy), being surrounded by silly servants, and being covered in over 1.5 m of snow in the past month, Ottawa's not too bad.

That said, I'll be keeping my eye on the beigery through 2008. I think my fellow beige correspondents will be doing the same.

Wishing you an excellent holiday season.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely Predict Future for Ottawa's Mayor

This is for all of you that think the Mayor looks like Lex Luthor, what with the baldness and generally giving off vague waves of spitefulness and evil.

Read All-Star Superman. It really is quite excellent.




Once Again With the Crazy

I really wish I lived in whichever reality Mayor Larry O'Brien has chosen to create for himself. After convincing himself and council that having a lawyer telling them "For the love of god and all that is holy shut the fuck up about this or you could get sued!" is a open consultation with Council and the public, he's somehow interpreted that as a resounding endorsement to continue unimpeded. He's also claiming to have resounding support from the public, you know, except for anyone interviewed for any media or asked about it in general.

And your bus fees will be going up to $5.25. Merry Christmas and happy zero percent.*

This is a tough situation, yes, it's unprecedented but do the right thing for once and step aside until it's cleared up. The citizens that elected you want you to step aside, try doing right by them for once. And Councillors need to be shaken awake on this as well and not defer responsibility to representing the citizens that elected them back to the citizenry itself. There is a massive void of people I have any respect for in local politics at the moment, I'm basically disgusted by the lot of them and will now use them as examples to any children I know of what they don't want to turn into when they become adults. Self-importance, Self-delusions an plain old selfishness are not qualities we require in elected officials.

The only thing I feel bad about for the Mayor is that this Kilray guy is a special brand of nutjob all his own. Then again, the OPP wouldn't lay charges if there wasn't any questions of innocence. Me, I'm totally innocent of bribery charges and I know this because I've never ever had to go to court to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I never tried to bribe anyone. It's a simple system really. So, yeah, he deserves the benefit of the doubt, especially when looking at the accusor, but c'mon, there was enough evidence present to cast that innocence into doubt in the first place.

*Offer not valid in Ottawa city limits.



Monday, December 10, 2007

I'm not going to write much on this, but...

Here's hoping that the charges against Larry O'Brien stick. And that Ottawa gets a mayor that, you know, doesn't "break" the "law" (allegedly - innocent until proven guilty) to get into City Hall.

This member of the public says STEP DOWN! Well, I'd say that regardless of the charges, but this should be a last straw for Mayor O'Brien's reign of beigery.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Okay This Whale Might get Bullied, but he'll at Least Have a Bright Future

I was going to post some rules for proper sidewalk usage today when I came across this and had to show it to all four of you reading this blog.

Lesson learned: If you ask the internet to name a whale, get ready for geek sarcasm to win out every single time.

I'm not sure why I love this so much. It's either the actual name, that it's a bunch of geeks being way more charismatic than Greenpeace activists or for the fact that it proves my theory that people really into the green movement aren't ready to deal with reality. Seriously, you know there was a bunch of people sitting around trying to come up with some kind of airy fairy name for their whale like Iko or somekind of name that means something like "dream" in another language they don't actually speak.

Today, I love humanity because of this.



Tuesday, December 4, 2007

He's not Conservative Blue, just plain old Yellow

After the reams of concerned questions posted to their website the CBC Radio show Search Engine was informed that Industry Minister Jim Prentice would not be appearing on their show in order to publicly defend Canada's New Government's™ draconian copyright proposal.

Funny, how these gents are hell bent on proposing business friendly legislation as all costs, especially to Canadian consumers. But this legislation is also a wolf in sheep's clothing for any businesses concerned. When similar legislation went through in the States many companies either went bankrupt or are now on the verge of bankruptcy because of the exorbitant amount of lawsuits they’ve enacted on tens of thousands of their own customers, all while forgoing such rights as fair use and please don’t ask any musicians or artists whose works they pretend this protects if they’ve received any extra funds from this activity.*

This is weak posturing that ensures Canada's New Government is selling your rights and your culture to American Companies.**

* They haven't.

** Although, if they remove our rights to satirise anything this may be the long overdue death of The Royal Canadian Air Farce, which I will heartily embrace. Same with the post-Mercer/Walsh This Hour Has 22 Minutes. The only thing they contribute to Canadian culture is our ridiculous insistence to air comedy that isn't actually funny in the least.



Friday, November 30, 2007

The hilarious rantings of a lunatic




OK, so I have to admit that I was never that big on the rantings of evangelical Christian preachers. I grew up Catholic, and didn't have to deal with all of the fire-and-brimstone and anti-science that some Evangelicals put out there (well, maybe I did hear it, but I was probably too busy bugging my brothers or hoping the next hymn wouldn't suck). In Catholic school in Kingston, we learned evolution, and we learned to be critical of religion, even our own to an extent. And one of the lessons that I remember from Gr. 9 and Gr. 10 religion with the late Father Stan and Mr. Korczynski was that, well, a lot of the fundamentalist religions and preachers are just plain nutty and weird, with their speaking in tongues and, uh, odd interpretations of religion (well, yeah, that Bible's a nice read, but why don't you try this one written by Joe Smith, as dictated to him by the angel Moroni?)

Anyhow, all this to say that I never paid any attention to guys like Jerry Falwell. And, well, I think I see why. That man was an absolute nutjob. Did the syphilis get his brain for him to have been this off his rocker?

I need to reprint the following lines, just for good measure.

---------------------

WHAT IS BEHIND THE ALARMISM OVER GLOBAL WARMING?

(1) To Create Major Economic Damage to America.

Experts predict that a universal compliance with the Kyoto Accords or any such proposal being promoted by the Al Gores of this world would cost the global community over $550 trillion and would cost the U.S. about $352 billion almost immediately. For starters, Americans would be assessed 35 cents per gallon of gasoline.

(2) The Desire To Change the Subject Concerning the World’s Moral Bankruptcy.

(3) Most importantly, it is Satan’s Attempt to Re-direct the Church’s Primary Focus.


------------------

Riiiiight... So the Church shouldn't worry about the poor in its flock who are subject to greater vulnerability to the worst impacts of climate change. I thought that was one of Jesus' greatest laws - you know, the whole "Love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matthew 22:39). I also remember the line "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do to me" (Matthew 25:40). So I guess guys like Falwell have to believe that climate change isn't happening, or else they may have to change their lifestyles because, well, they might be contravening the word of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Also, apparently, people who care about greenhouse gas emissions and climate change are all a bunch of pinko commies. That's what I think when I hear the names Ray Anderson, founder of Interface Flooring, Lars Josefsson, the President and CEO of Vattenfall, a large Swedish utility, and Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric. Apparently, they're all a bunch of pinko commies, because they're trying to make their companies greener (and maybe make a bit of money at it, but apparently being green means not making any money, right Rev. Falwell?).

Phew... I'm done with this rant.

CBC's Search Engine is taking questions for Jim Prentice on the new Copyright Bill

I've gone and posted my questions for the Minister of Industry and I encourage everyone to go post a question to find out how restricting the rights of you as a consumer, and Canadian, will benifit you in any possible way.

There is a lot of good stuff there already, but please take part. My question is being processed and should be up when it's approved, but I like all the questions about whether or not we'll still pay levies on blank media if they will be legislated to have anti-copy devices in them that make them, essentially, unusable. So if you pay to download music to your iPod you wouldn't be able to move it to any other computer you own, but as of now you pay a levie on the iPod because they claim you should be buying the song you want to listen to again. They do it on blank cassettes and CDs as well, in case you use them for transferring music, etc. Forget about backing up anything you have.

Have fun.



Thursday, November 29, 2007

How it all went down

Here's a brilliant fly-on-the-wall news coverage story of how the whole selling Canadian culture to American executives who want to abuse copyright thing went down.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Soon Reading This Will Be Illegal

I was just getting my morning dose of awesome and interesting from Boing Boing when I came across Corey Doctrow’s post about Canada’s new proposed DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). The proposal to be tabled by Jim Prentice is essentially one of the worst abuses of consumer rights ever proposed. Not only will it make it illegal to move media from one device to another, it would make it illegal to watch/listen to your movies or music on another device if the company that made the original goes out of business. There is a no exceptions portion to the anti-circumvention clause.

So get ready to become a criminal if you attempt to parody, time-shift, or try any other modern fair usage. It also makes it illegal for you to circumvent any anti-copy aspects in any device you own, such as a Windows Vista PC, game console, or cable box. You would not be permitted to modify these items without consent from the manufacturer, who is most always US based.

So while you can record a show to watch later at the moment, under the new DMCA you would lose that right. In essence the next time an immigrant gets killed with a taser and you catch it on your camera phone you would violate the proposed DMCA when it is transferred or copied. Or, say you’re a teacher who wants to make photocopies of a passage from a book for your students? Sorry, that too would violate this act.

By adding little digital policemen to devices you will lose your current rights as a Canadian to American business and lobbyists. I’m amazed at how Canada’s New Government™ is very much America’s Whipping Boy.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Colour this AWESOME!!!

Wow. This is an interesting colour of awesome. Go Korean high schools.

On a side note, I found a link to this video at the Guardian's Environment site, on an article about the poor environmental performance of the Football Association. The Guardian is more than a sight better than any equivalent of a North American newspaper on environmental topics (at least, those that I've seen - please correct me if I'm wrong). On top of that, it is often found exhorting the U.K. to progress further, and join its Nordic and Teutonic neighbours as environmental leaders. Having finally been to the U.K. for a couple of days on my return from a work meeting last week, I can see that there remains a fair bit of work to do (housing standards for energy efficiency do need to be ratcheted up, and recycling needs to become more ubiquitous), but they're generally ahead of us on this environmental game.


This has nothing to do with Ottawa, but...

Is anyone else absolutely disgusted by cheap shots delivered by the Philadelphia Flyers this year? First Steve Downie, then Jesse Boulerice, then Randy Jones, and now Scott Hartnell.

That's in two months. Disgusting. There's a pattern showing up here - and suspending mediocre players (OK, Hartnell's fairly decent) doesn't look to be enough to stop it. A more severe punishment should be administered at some point - deducting points, or suspending their general manager or coach for a few games might do the trick.


Emma Clarke - you made my day

Having come to Ottawa via London I am extremely familiar with the Tube Lady's announcements. I'm sad and disappointed in that city's officials for firing her over some spoof mp3s she's recorded and posted on her own website. They are exceptionally brilliant and can be found in the meantime on metafilter. Reading these false announcements has really made my day because they are just brilliant life observations that are pretty much applicable to any city.

They are all favourites, but in particular I like:

We'd like to remind our American tourist friends that you are almost certainly talking too loud."

and

"Here we are again, crammed into a sweaty tube carriage. And today's Wednesday - only two more days until you can binge drink yourself into a state of denial about the mediocrity of you life. Oh, for Goodness sake, if you're female smile at the bloke next to you and make his day. He probably hasn't had sex for months"



Friday, November 23, 2007

When Hippies and Tolkein Collide

Holy crap this is awesome.



Senator's Pay Per View

So last night I was watching the Senators' Pay Per View game on Rogers. It cost me $11, and I should have learned my lesson the first time. Last year, we didn't get the entire second period versus New Jersey and when it did come back it was the local American Channel. I made the mistake of believing my $11 would allow me to avoid watching commercials and since it was advertised as Sens TV, that I would actually get a pro Senators bent.

Well the same fucking thing happened last night against Pittsburgh. The broadcast shorted out and suddenly I'm getting the local Pittsburgh feed. I called Rogers about the problem and I am absolutely disgusted by their customer service.

I did manage to get through the entire call without yelling but only because I'm at work so I can distract myself during the long telephone trees that don't give you the proper section (I went with billing since I wanted my $11 back), and the infinite timelessness of being put on hold.

Rogers then tried to blame me for the interuption in service. They said that I could have hit the SAP setting on my TV. My TV doesn't have a digital feed. In fact I had to buy an adaptor to hook my dvd player to it because it only has a cable connection on the back. I expect it to increase in value any day on the antique market. So, they said that I hit a button when the blue screen of death appeared with "PLEASE STAND BY" in white block letters. Then when the Pittsburgh feed appeared and the text scrawled across the bottom said that the Senators feed was experiencing technical difficulties, that too was somehow my fault. Also, I was the first person to call so they were unaware of any problems.

I called on Friday at 10:30 a.m. I ask that anyone who called before that time with the same exact complaint let me know so we can definately, with finality, be able to call Rogers a bunch of fucking liars. Is that seriously what passes for customer service? Blame the customer for something that was publicly apologized for?

Personally, I treat these calls as if they are an improvisation game where you can never say the word "yes" or anything else that can be recorded as an agreement for them to remix when you sue them. Never say yes when you are calling a customer service line, but don't be total dickhead either, it's not the person on the phone's fault.

I got my eleven bucks back. I encourage you all to do the same. That wasn't the service you paid for, so don't complain, act accordingly. Unless, I was the only house in all of Ottawa that lost the pay-per-view service and that message was entirely just for me.

Time to head to CBC to register my experience.



Thursday, November 22, 2007

Moment of reflection on our finest

All right folks, I admit Ottawa Beige is not an ideal soapbox to comment on the burning...pardon me, electrifying, issues of the day, and that I rarely wade into debate that has something to do with the police.

I've been a spectator to the Taser use controversy just like most of us have been. I do not have background in crime prevention or crowd control although I know enough kung fu to seriously disable an unarmed attacker. I also do not buy into the 'cop-hating' subculture that's rife out there, in some communities, especially south of the 49th and in the demi-monde of gangsta hip-hop - nor do I have frequent fantasies of being some kind of a Judge Dredd figure. Never been unfairly arrested or had an altercation with the cops and only spent one evening at a station, years ago for a suspected DUI...and got released, with an apology and a cab fare home. So, my opinions are the regular white dude opinions.

In order to have a balanced discussion on this hot-button topic, I say let's get a few facts straight and establish a couple of baseline conditions.

One, police officers of all stripes need adequate protection and response capability. Too many RCMPs and other officers have been dying in line of duty lately. Overwhelming response to a threatening situation is actually one of the longest-standing principles of police intervention - subdue or take down a person who is threatening or uncooperative, or who might have a weapon. It's been happening for ages.

Two, electrocuting people is never a 'safe' alternative to firing an actual gun. Yes, it might have much lower odds of actually killing someone than if you fire a bullet into them, but to send a strong electric current through someone is a potentially lethal action, only a step or two away from inducing a heart attack. Countless studies have been done on what the odds are in supposedly 'responsible' Taser use but no one has come forward with figures of what happens when policemen use a stun gun repeatedly on someone, and especially on someone who already has a condition that makes them susceptible to a heart attack.

Three, one can be trigger-happy with a Taser or a similar weapon just as they can be trigger-happy with the real deal. It is not the weapon, it is the person wielding it who is responsible for over-reacting. The old service revolver gets issued with the precaution that it should be fired only when absolutely necessary, when the officer's life is in danger. I wonder what the rules are for electric stun guns and how they compare.

Fourth, when a bunch of RCMPs acting like cowboy extras on the set of a spaghetti western end up killing a distraught, not-quite mentally stable, non-English speaking immigrant, you bet Canada is not going to be in Poland's good books. Not for quite some time. I saw the Polish ambassador at an event this Tuesday...and he is pissed off (as dignified as he might seem), according to reliable sources. If this happened to a Canadian at the Krakow airport, we'd be up in arms, too.

Last but not least, our country's popular image of the RCMP is changing. Not for the better. The innocence we used to collectively have about 'our finest'

So, these are the baseline conditions. I invite our readers to form their own conclusions and theories.



Survival of the Fittest

So the first snow has fallen, woo hoo! Outdoor skating is now only weeks away and The Weather Network (and pretty much any weather forecaster) has become a prophet of doom.

I love winter.

Last night I couldn't watch my local forecast on The Weather Network because it was a red storm warning screen telling me there was snow coming. Has it really come to this? That snow is now something to fear?

I remember a few years ago when Rick Mercer made fun of The Weather Network for talking about snow bombs. You know what a snow bomb is? It's flurries.

You know what happens every year in Canada? It starts to snow at some point. Do we really need to be the victims of weather terrorism whenever snow falls? Sure, people need to adjust their driving habits but guess what? The same thing happened last year and, well, since there have been cars really. I can imagine what our ancestors are thinking - bunch of stinking pansies, it's snow for god's sake.

One thing I noticed on my walk into work today: there are people who like their job more than their lives. I need to cross a highway off ramp (it goes from the 417 to O'Connor/Isabella) and people weren't waiting for the light there as cars were coming off the highway. Two smokers did this in the last two days. I thought is was tobacco, but really I smell Darwin Award there. Do you really need to get to work THAT badly that you can't wait until the speeding tonne of metal has managed to come to a stop on a frozen road?

And to the guy who decided to speed through a yellow light at O'Connor and Lisgar yesterday while going through a massive puddle that almost splashed me, my wife but got the woman in front of us: Fuck you dickweed.



Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why Ottawa sucks - and also why it doesn't

With the fall season fully upon us and the London-like fog occassionally descending on the river and greyness all around, the social temperature of the Beige City is actually increasing, a bit.

As a sometime optimistic counter-voice to Jon's dark musings, I feel it is incumbent on me to occassionally sing praises to the small steps the capital takes, once in a while, towards being less obviously beige...

There was the rather debaucherous Food&Wine show, emphasis on wine, squarely on the wine. I enjoyed myself thoroughly, as did thousands of other people who'd passed through those gates. Of course, the Congress centre is not really the ideal environment for an epicurean event like this, but it is the venue we have. It is central, within the necessary stumbling distance of other places the visitors may want to go...as if there was anywhere else to go, given that one is always, and I mean always, mildly toasted after the Food&Wine show and it is difficult to find a way out of the drunken labyrinth. 4 stars out of 5.

Now, the EU Film Festival is playing. It would be, and I am emphasizing 'would', a world-class event considering its many films, some of them cutting-edge and already very successful in their own countries or all over Europe. It would be a great event if all the embassies and high commissions involved in organizing it actually threw receptions afterwards - and if, and that's asking a lot, some of the actors or directors from the featured films actually dropped by the festival, for a night or two. Although I go every year, fourth year in a row, the EU Festival leaves me hungry for more; not necessarily more film, but more beer and pretzels and cookies. There seems to be a downward trend with the snacks, a very unfortunate situation. 3 stars out of 5, on a good night.

I have also realized we lack in regular, high-voltage sports events other than the beloved Sens games. The Junior World Cup of soccer was fantastic, a real treat for me personally as a player and a fan of the game, not to mention it was simply one of the highlights of Ottawa life this year. We were extremely fortunate to have high-level matches held here, with the likes of Argentina, Mexico and Czech Republic teams strutting their moves and scoring spectacular goals. The audiences were lively and "into it". Of course, there was almost nowhere to retire after leaving the stadium; all the pubs and bars along the Bank street in the Glebe are small and woefully unprepared for the influx of additional hundreds of soccer fans who want to drink and hang out. If this were England, people would have been enjoying their pints in the streets, if it was good ol' Deutschland, they would have constructed temporary beer gardens. But not us, not in Ottawa. Weak, very weak...

What I would like to see in this city, as a tennis fan, is the occassional high-end tournament or at least an exhibition match between top ranked pros. People play tennis in this city. There are plenty of tennis clubs and small-time competitions. But no "Capital Open". We have to go to Montreal or Toronto to enjoy ATP calibre tennis.

Years ago, I recall watching an exhibition match in Calgary. Ivan Lendl and Jimmy Connors slugged it out in the Saddledome. Amazing. I say, bring on the Federer-Sampras series or something similar. I'd be lining up in a second.

http://www.atptennis.com/1/en/2007news/federer_sampras1.asp

Yeah, we could do better, in this supposedly capital city.



Thursday, November 15, 2007

Not quite the tallest midgets

Once again it's time to celebrate how utterly dull Ottawa is with the Xpress "Best of Ottawa" issue. I have a love hate relationship with lists. I like to make my own but I tend to hate everyone else's. I need to make the joke every single year that the best of Ottawa is like voting on the tallest midget, only Ottawa wouldn't actually have the tallest midget but they would have an exceptionally tall one.

I tend to like the music and art category because, well, they actually change, but otherwise all the list means to me is that the Manx gets more crowded for the next month or so, which is a slight inconvenience on my part.

My history with this list is a few years ago when I decided to read it in order to try a new Indian restaurant. It was a disaster of epic proportions. I remember telling my wife, then girlfriend, that I don't know if I trust a list voted on by people from Ottawa, they're a bland bunch. My concern that the Indian restaurant would be this bland imitation of Indian food. If only that was it. No what happened was by far the worst restaurant experience I have ever had with a minor wait for a table then being asked to move tables, taking drink orders that show up just as we put on our jackets out of frustration on waiting for them to show up, a similar wait before our orders are taken then the wrong food shows up and then, after a similar wait, our actual order shows up - cold. Never went back and never looked to the best of Ottawa for advice on where to eat. Lesson learned, should have followed my instincts. We joke that it was totally karma, seeing as it was invented in India - now we don't cheat on our Indian place unless someone invites us.

I guess I was just spoiled coming from London, UK where any hole in the wall curry joint (especially the ones that deliver) knocks the socks off of any curry I've had here.

Anway, I'm glad we won most ignored Ottawa based blog - you won't find it on the list, therefore, mission accomplished.

I'd like to thank my fellow contributors, ...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Spider-menace Now in Brazil

by J. Jonah Jameson

Not satisfied with being a menace to the citizens of New York, Spider-man has decided to disguise himself as a five-year-old Brazilian boy. That's right, a child in a Spider-man costume endangered his own life to run into a burning building to save a one-year-old child.



Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm ready to call it quits.

Somehow I get the feeling that the Ottawa City Council is actually anti-urban. It is understandable that this is the result of the four downtown ridings voting overwhelmingly for Alex Munter in the last election. Every single day I hear about more inevitable cuts to the core amenities that make any city worth living in. This mayor and city council are all but ensuring that Ottawa will be a burnt out husk of a core (yes, more so than it is already) and a suburban wasteland that treats any non-home owner as a burden.

I see a future that is much bleaker than any Orwellian dystopia because it isn’t fictional. It is inevitable that this will be a city of retirees because it simply won’t have the amenities that attract young talented individuals to this city. In fact, it’s getting to the point of driving me away. The city is about to eviscerate itself and ensure that nobody will want to come here.

If anyone remembers what Ottawa was like in the seventies and eighties, get ready for a flashback. This will be a government suburb, with little else. And you better have a car because you won’t be able to afford the bus if you are lucky to actually find one. You better not have any form of disability or addiction because there won’t be any places to get a roof or meal. Think you could just kill time at the library? Think again, it'll be gone too. Etc. etc. etc. And most importantly, you better not want to live anywhere outside of the suburbs because it will be made the most inconvenient place to live in Ontario.

Congratulations. I guess they really are running city hall like an Ottawa based business. I just wonder if they realize they can’t actually sell it to an American company like IBM.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Dumbass nation

I am quite used to Canadians not being exactly world leaders in knowing about geography, history, civics and all that. It's not surprising that our primary schools do a poor job of imparting that knowledge to kids; when one considers we compare ourselves constantly with the Americans, it is a low performance bar indeed.

But the following survey results shocked even the seasoned cynical me.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071108.whistory1109/BNStory/Front

So, let me get this straight. Over half of our kids and teenagers, based on this sample, don't know that Harper is the Prime Minister. More than likely, they think Canada has a president. And, and I hope they were kidding when this was said (but sadly, I know, deep inside, they weren't kidding)...Abraham Lincoln?! WTF! What else don't the kids know, that's the question.

At the risk of sounding like a crusty old conservative, our crappy schools, from the cute Grade 1 to the uber-cool, tall Grade 12, need a serious overhaul. I still distinctly remember arriving in Canada and starting Grade 10 later that year; I was relieved that the science and math were so easy, about a year and a half behind the equivalent European curriculum. That meant I could concentrate on learning English and absorbing as much vocabulary as possible, instead of hitting the rest of the course books...and, amazingly enough, I actually won the Grade 10 'Most Outstanding student award'. It shocked me - there is no reason some other kid, with English as thier first language, should not have finished first in the grade averages, especially counting in the language classes and social studies.

When I see high schoolers walking by, my reaction isn't, unfortunately, 'hey, look, future of the nation' or "I wonder if there's the next Roger Banting or Robert Polanyi among these kids". You know, the genius, the pusher of boundaries, the intellectual ass-kicker. Or simply the next competent family doctor, the next policeman on the block, the next soccer coach.

No, when I see high-school kids walking by, I'm thinking, "here go just another bunch of baggy-assed ruffians with iPods in their ears", and "my, oh my, they didn't make high school girls like that when I was their age..."

Well, I might be a touch prejudiced - but the stats bear out the inconvenient truth. Let's get cracking here and start educating kids about some essentials.



Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Ottawa's Fiscal Planning

Today our penis shaped mayor held a morning meeting to tell everyone how he would achieve his absolute promise to not raise taxes. What resulted was me being incredibly thankful I'm not a homeowner in Ottawa, not to mention feeling incredibly smug for having voted for the other guy. Anyway, the only aspect of zero that was presented was in the areas of facts and information.

So eleven months after he's plundered the reserves to minimize an increase we still don't have a plan for the city's finances. Lucky me, I can make up some options for what we can expect to see for the city's budget:

  • Letter to Santa asking for one hundred million dollars.
  • Instructions on rubbing hands together and laughing maniacally then running to the trap door at the back of the council chamber to escape via a convenient rocket backpack disguised as a fuse box.
  • Zero tax increase budget only leaves enough for one full body mayor waxing, which is simply unconscionable.
  • The choice is yours: more taxes or we kick you in the nuts until we can steal your wallet without you chasing us down.
  • Council repeals scavaging by-law, use own cars for recycling pick up.
  • Police riot gear now hammered flat diet coke cans.
  • All chairs for remaining six employees converted to power generating treadmills.
  • Returning to Hull Casino and putting it all on black.
  • Councillors are encouraged to stop wiping selves with salary excesses.
  • Parking enforcement now outsourced to kids with matches and spraypaint.
  • Converting public's ability to choke back reason, rage and self-respect into revenue generating energy Ottawa can sell to surrounding communities.
  • Generate revenue by selling tickets to Ottawa Morning where Kathleen Petty publicly evicerates mayor, again.
  • Bake sale.
  • Plans to run the city like the Ottawa Rough Riders, strike that, like the Ottawa Renegades, no wait, I mean like the next CFL team that absolutely won't screw up their finances like we did. Hey look, I can throw a football. Yeah, people sure do love football.
  • All dissenting members of council and the public invited to air their concerns at meeting held in the lower south side stands of Frank Claire Stadium.



Tuesday, November 6, 2007

CanLit Primer

Or; How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Never Join a Book Club

Welcome new reader to the first and only introductory seminar to the wonderful world of Canadian Literature. What you’ll get here isn’t a list of great Canadian Fiction or required reading but a primer in how to tell something will be praised or even classified as CanLit. You see, CanLit is a genre just like Noir Detective Fiction, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction, Bodice Rippers, or Dystopian.

The assumed qualification for CanLit is that the author resides in Canada. That’s really the starting assumption but the genre is actually based on tropes and not particularly limited to geographic boundaries. Instead I posit that the genre is based on three main components I call the triumvirate of abuse.

In order to be considered CanLit, and in turn qualify for any CanLit prizes, a work of fiction must contain 2 of the following 3 aspects, if not all three in some combination:

1) Physical Abuse,

2) Sexual Abuse/Incest; and

3) Alcohol Abuse.

If your work of fiction fails to contain a minimum of 2 of these aspects it will forever be shunned as popular fiction and therefore not to be considered of any benefit to the Canadian Literary tradition of CanLit. A potential fourth aspect is a rural setting, if not poverty and misery in general, particularly if the setting is urban. However, setting is not particularly important for any claims a work of fiction may have to CanLit status as long as the triumvirate of abuse is used to proper effect.

If you attempt to forgo the required triumvirate of abusive plot points your novel must be set in India, or, only if you are a curmudgeonly charming English speaking Jew, Montreal.

There are a few additional aspects that will tend to work against your attempts at inclusion into the genre, and in particular qualify your work for any CanLit award. Do not, under any circumstances be born a white English speaking male. Quebecois is okay but you will only benefit from having some form of surname that is foreign to the English speaker or reader. Women authors should never attempt to style their hair or pronounce words at an audible level when reading from their works in public. Although that does not affect the quality of work it does help in creating a campaign to being considered a serious CanLit author.

Please note that your novel must be a test of your reader’s fortitude and by no means should attempt to entertain them. You’ve suffered as a CanLit author, and by gum, your reader should suffer with you. Remember, the triumvirate of abuse is your go to metaphor for the audience’s experience not just the basis of the CanLit genre and award system. Completed, successful, or well written stories are of no regard in light of these core fundamentals of CanLit.

Next week we will cover how setting your novel in Cape Breton is a coal mine for the abusive triumvirate.



Monday, November 5, 2007

Um, kettle, meet pot.

Apparently there is a minor uproar over a poster of Lord Durham. He was part of Ottawa becoming the capital, however there are claims by a Quebecois group that having this poster up is a slap in the face to Quebec. So the poster has been taken down, because you know we wouldn't to learn unfiltered history or anything now would we?

The reason? He thought French speakers should assimilate into English Canada.

Maybe he should be called to the reasonable accomodation hearings?

Just saying.



Remember, remember, the Fifth of November

Happy Bonfire Night (aka Guy Fawkes Day).

I’ve decided that for the holidays I will not purchase any gifts from businesses that are advertising for Christmas before Remembrance Day. As of now, I will not purchase anything from Canadian Tire and Best Buy. I’m limiting it to television commercials so far, which is probably good for a lot of companies since I have a really busy schedule this week and won’t end up not knowing what to do so I turn on the television. Also, I don't really want to go hunt out window displays out of spite but if one strikes me as too much, they're out too.

My feeling is that we can wait until after we’ve honoured our veterans and soldiers to start advertising for deals on HD tvs, laptops, potentially toxic decorations, and various assorted sundries.


Friday, November 2, 2007

Le Sigh

I came across this gem of an article today after my wife pointed out what happened yesterday, I believe. Only in Quebec will one of the greatest hockey players and genuinely respected athletes be criticised for not knowing French. Saku Koivu already speaks Finnish, Swedish and English, which is more than pretty much every Canadian (and Quebecer) who stuggles with two languages, if not one.

This is the guy who the Montreal Canadiens franchise is built upon, is the Captain of the team, who beat non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and has been selected by the Olympic Athletes to represent them on the Athlete's Commission of the IOC. Maybe the Parti Quebecois needs to jump on that religious schools bandwagon or just build a large Berlinesque wall around the province to really get in touch with voters.

Saku, you'd be welcome in Ottawa. In fact, I'll trade Redden for you.



Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Horror Week: Day 4 – Post-Horrorocolypse

Since yesterday’s post was simply too terrifying and horrorific for human minds to handle the space-time-continuum ripped it asunder. Or, perhaps I just didn’t really have a good joke. Either way, you’re sanity was saved for another day.

So as you raise your head from the weary sleep of the sugared dead to face the unflinching reality of the work week you can remain assured that a chiropractor in Orleans has your back. Yep during our severe shortage of family doctors and lack of access to specialized clinics there’s a doctor in Orleans who will x-ray your children’s Halloween candy to make sure there aren’t any foreign metal objects in it. What the means is to make sure there aren’t any pins, needles or razor blades in the loot. This, as you no doubt realize, is complete and utter bullshit.*

There has never been a case of this type of thing being reported. It’s a great Halloween horror story because it makes you fear the average neighbour in the suburbs. Who knows what horrors lay beneath the beige exteriors? But, really wasn’t it apples that had the foreign objects? And, really, what kid in their right mind was eating an apple on Halloween?** Severe health issues aside I don’t think any kid, ever, in the history of Halloween will ever be in danger of mistakenly eating an apple on the night of free candy.

Besides, it’s the poisons you need to really worry about because they won’t give you stitches, they’ll actually kill you good and dead and unless it’s a heavy metal like arsenic you probably won’t see them in an x-ray.***

So Mr. Bones, what do you think about The Horror Week?



Hey kids, don’t believe lame parents. They actually are as lame as you think they are and other adults feel the exact same way as you do. Unless they are you're parents in which case they are lovely.****

*Unless he’s trying to teach kids that x-rays won’t kill you (they will). But he’s really just fuelling unhinged rumors of made up horror.

**The ones you hated to go visit because their parents were weird and only let you eat raisins as a treat. I’m looking at you Mr. and Mrs. Trent.

***This is made up. I have no idea if you can see arsenic in an x-ray. Or if it’s really a heavy metal poison.

****No they're not, they're lame.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Horror Week: Day 2 – That’s not a moon, it’s a pumpkin!

Here is the only pumpkin you need ever carve for Halloween.


Provided from Wired’s Geek-o-Lantern image gallery.

Yep, got the pumpkin carved last night and it survived its first night on the porch. We decided to go with your traditional Jack-o-Lantern rather than the Death Star. I was all gung-ho for carving myself up a Death Star but then I realized I didn’t really want to spend that much time carving this year, not to mention I didn’t want to buy carving tools. Also, waiting until this point in October means you’ll only get the half-rotted, side-show freak pumpkins and not the perfectly round Aryan pumpkins that are displayed when the pumpkins first come out.

If were up to me though, we’d use carved pumpkins as our only source of porch lighting year round. It’s partially that I get to pretend I’m a mad doctor performing lobotomies. If you need help carving pumpkins just go here or here for some instructions. You can get some pretty cool stencil designs at the Homestar Runner website (I’m kind of partial to the Bear holding a Shark pumpkin stencil – seen here carved by Chris Sims), but honestly, just download any picture you like, greyscale it in photoshop then adjust the levels to only get black and white. Et voila, you have a stencil you can attach to your pumpkin. Use a pointy piece of plastic to poke an outline around the areas you want to cut, grab a flexible knife and cut to connect the dots and you have total pumpkin awesomeness.

So, Dr. Doom-kin as carved by Dave Campbell, what do you think about The Horror Week?

Oh, c’mon, just say it.
Seriously, man, you said you’d be a good sport.
You can destroy us all later. C’mon, I’ll give you some rockets.


Cool. I mean the candy, not actual rockets, by the way.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Another good Halloween idea - The Worst MP in Canada

I have just finished laughing with Jon's recent post...these are all worthwhile costumes, indeed.

There is one more idea, which Jon would probably add to the list.

Go as Canada's Worst MP.

I have just finished reading about the Worst MP and his name is Blair Wilson, the recently resigned Liberal member for the Vancouver-Sunshine Coast riding. There is an absolutely, and I mean absolutely devastating expose on him in The Province (see below). If you thought Sponsorship was bad, if you thought that Liberals were mired in muck, Wilson is the poster boy for all that we love to hate about slimy politicians. I am not usually this critical - or this offended - but, man, oh, man...

This guy's campaign expenses reporting may have been the trigger for his resignation, but it's his overall conduct in the wider world that is the true horror story. I read the Province article, with an extensive background of how Wilson had mismanaged his business dealings...and I have never seen a worse example. This man profile is horrifying - I mean, he doesn't go around stabbing people, but his financial misdemeanors make most 'corrupt' Third World officials look squeaky clean.

Who do you know recently that's borrowed $2 million from wealthy inlaws, bought six houses and isn't paying mortgage on any of them? Have you ever had an employer who you've had to take to the Labour Board, repeatedly, because he wasn't paying your wages? Ever had a business associate that the suppliers were after due to large unpaid bills? Ever worked on a political campaign staffed by weird, slimy characters?

Well, Blair Wilson embodies all these things...and more. Charlatan is too charming of a moniker to apply here. This man is simply a thief and probably would fall into the sociopath category if assessed by a psychologist. If he were in the Mafia, he would have been the most likely guy to get 'whacked'.

http://www.canada.com/theprovince/story.html?id=950fb44a-468c-4cd4-be69-14f95281dfc3&k=87706

This is why, kids, you want to know about your MPs private "business" dealings. I would rather have my MP run a string of massage parlors with underage Thai girls than have this kind of a "businessman".



The Horror Week: Day One - Costumes

Halloween is coming up this week, so I guess this is more like The Horror 3 Days. If you're about as planny-aheady as I am you probably don't have a costume. I do have one advantage over most people when it comes to minimal planning but scary costume nonetheless. I live in The Glebe so I can just be a Stranger and everyone is freaking the hell out. Also, I'm bigger than most kids so I take a Fagan approach to gathering sweets where I consider most children to be Artful Dodger type gatherers of my own quest towards diabetic shock. If you don't give me a big enough cut, I can just wrench the candy sack from your puny little girl hands. Oh you think those tears are going to stop me princess?

Um, yeah that's going to stop there.

So anyway, here's a few costume ideas sure to strike fear into anyone this Halloween.

Stephen Harper

This is pretty easy if you're a guy. All you need is a suit, a large billowy shirt and a pillow. Button the pillow inside the shirt and put on the suit, then walk around in mock outrage and stand up for Canadians and Canadian families. If you're really committed go to the barber and ask for the grade one, first day of school cut. Explain that you are not Al Gore.

Stephane Dion

A bit easier but requires slightly more dedication. All you need is a suit and everyone you know to punch you in the gut or hit you with some foreign object until you get a stunned look and put the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLAble.

Wear a birka and go to Quebec.

Walk around smoking and tell everyone you're cancer. Better yet, quit your job, flop on the couches of friends, constantly borrow money your never intend to pay back, eat friends out of house and home, make inappropriate offers to their spouses and abuse at least one substance thus becoming an actual cancer of society.

Put on a skirt and sequined top, remove underwear and go as Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan. Then hit the Karaoke.

Civil Servant
Place box over your head for comfy cubicle feeling (air holes and mind numbing lighting optional). Slouch shoulders for broken spirit look. Lash out at random people who "get in your way." Sigh whenever someone asks you who you are and explain with a tone of contempt what your costume is and how you make it. Run through all red lights you see and get mad at people who point out how that might actually kill you. Wear golden handcuffs labelled "pension." Only trick or treat at one third of the houses an enterprising child manages on their own then complain you couldn't do more because you had to go home and learn French, again.
If you are more enterprising you could always try to create costumes that embody more existential dread such as Global Warming, Fire, Large Meat Eating Mammals, Existential Dread, or Robotic Sharks that know Kung-Fu.

Hey, Prime Minister, what do you think of The Horror Week?

Awesome.



Friday, October 26, 2007

Citizens and "citizens"

I admit I've always found Quebec and the Quebecois just a bit cooler, bit more 'with it" than the rest of Canada. In Quebec, you can buy beer and wine at the cornerstores. They have the Formula 1 Grand Prix. The people dress quite stylishly; you can always spot the hot, fashion-conscious yet subtle francophone female in a crowd. The social safety net is pretty good - no one else has an affordable daycare system in this country. The landscape on the North Shore is beautiful, the ski hills kick ass, and there are more painters, musicians and other artists per capita in Montreal, Quebec City and elsewhere than there are in anglo Canada. Les Invasions Barbares was the type of profound, funny, moving film that no English Canadian director ever made. And, yes, the French CBC has some pretty innovative programming.

Having heaped praise on the home of the disctinct society clause and big hydro, let me now register my disappointment and, puzzlement, really, at how the 'immigrant' integration issue is being handled, perceived, written about in Quebec. It speaks to a certain malaise across the society, amplified through the political medium.

If a political party in the provincial assembly in Quebec city wants more stringent requirements on how newly arrived people behave within the province, then there should be certain rules of thumb, to assure the requirements don't end up sounding absurd, misplaced or downright bigoted:

1. The language requirement is a red herring. Of course, if anyone wants to work in Quebec and isn't a federal bureaucrat in Place du Portage in Hull, the French language is an automatic requirement. Just like anyone wanting work in Vancouver or Halifax would have to have a sufficient command of English. Ask my parents who, as immigrants into English Canada, spent years learning and perfecting their language skills...it was necessary and it wasn't a piece of cake.

2. The cultural sensitivity to all things connected with the langauge and French Canadian culture is certainly a fine, fine point. But there are established channels that help engrain values, teach about history and reinforce a sense of a polity. Schools and universities, for one. The cultural content of French as a second language classes. If, in this day and age, with so many possible channels of communication and so many ways to capture a person's attention, we are told we'd have to resort to a political charter of some sorts...hmmm, I'd say that the schools, media, writers and others are not doing their job.

3. Quebec may be distinct within Canada -I'll be the first person to say it is - but it is still within Canada, a part of the same economy and the same job market. When one immigrates to Quebec, they think of themselves as primarily immigrating to Canada. A person struggling in the francophone environment won't turn into a good, productive worker or a citizen if you whack him with another requirement...they will likely end up moving and throw in their lot with the red-hot Alberta economy or the good ol' TO. Especially if they are engineers, teachers, nurses, construction foremen or equipment operators. That's how French Canada loses people annually to English Canada. Simple as that.

4. Rural and small-town Quebec where much of the conern over 'reasonable accomodation' is coming from is not a very dynamic economic region. Opportunities for newcomers don't exactly abound in Gaspesie, Beauce or Saguenay. These places will never be over-run by hordes of culturally different people with low capacities for assimilating into a francophone existence - to suggest that this might happen is fear-mongering and political manipulation. If I am coming from South America, Lebanon or China, my destination is very likely to be Montreal, not the backwoods....and nothing against the 'backwoods', either. They are nice to go hiking in but most people know where their daily bread comes from.

5. Concern over cultural integration and the concern over people who 'bring their conflicts with them' should be two different issues, handled through different channels. If someone is raising eyebrows with their apparently ultra-conservative Islamic ways or if they are coming from a recent war zone...former Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, many African countries, to name examples...there are going to be extra concerns over that person's ability to lead a normal life in Quebec, anywhere in Canada for that matter. But if we are talking 'cultural and linguistic integration', then we ought not drag in other, potentially deeper concerns such as those over people who might be prone to use violence easily or who have trouble with written legal codes.

Remember the highest risk demographics in our society, as far as crime and not getting along with the rest of us? Young aboriginal Canadian men and young men of Jamaican origin in Toronto. Both groups speak English, for one. Both have grown up in this country. Grown up alienated, perhaps...but no one is going to solve that problem by testing these populations against some civic-type scale.

Just my ususal fifty-four cents.



Punk Sports Cards

I just found these and they are wonderful. I guess I have a new hobby.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why Ottawa is so beige.




So, instead of doing my own research, the Ottawa Citizen did it for me. And horror of horrors... They did it pretty well!!! Ken Gray goes through the reasons why Ottawa is the way it is today. And he takes some pretty hard shots at the city. A rare moment when I am impressed by the Citizen. Thanks, Mr. Gray!

Filed under irony

On my way to Montebello I saw a truck delivering gasoline to a gas station. On the side of said truck was "powered by biodiesel." Biodiesel wasn't available at the gas station. I love it. I love it more than the windmills placed on the Hibernia gas platform.



Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The long, drawn-out death of Kyoto, the one that's not Stephane's dog

So, speech from the Throne happened last night. As it happens almost every year. I kind of like to observe the pomp and circumstance; they remind me that there is such a thing as the Parliament and that there is the ship of the state, which (strangely enough) does need someone to steer it from time to time. We have not yet invented an autopilot for these occassions.

I - and this is almost difficult to admit as a former Liberal staffer and someone who's gotten his professional start as a pro-Kyoto activist in (ehm, ehm) Alberta - found nothing too controversial or extremely right-wing in the speech last night. It was strategically conceived to annoy and bait the opposition but the basic policy course seems to be the same old, same old Canadian middle of the road, 'all things to everyone' appeal. Why not? We are a complex, easily fractured federation and there will always be sectors and interest groups that any government has to cater to. There are noteworthy items and concessions in every single Speech from the Throne that deal a few more, albeit symbolic, cards to the province of Quebec, to Aboriginal people, to law and order enforcement (hey, no one is against having safer streets...), and, lately to environmentalists.

Having said the last word, yes, I am an environmentalist, at least deep on the inside, below the increasingly cynical outer layers. This stuff matters, in the long run. We do need to have cleaner Great Lakes, no lead in children's toys, and this climate change business is worrisome. If we can grow crops for food as well as for fuel, perhaps that's progress, too...

Which brings me to the K-word. Nothing against Stephane Dion's dog, but I have become absolutely sick of the constant appeals to 'save Kyoto'. Everyone who wants to cloak themselves in a progressive garb and drop fashionable references to Al Gore has been lining up to live up to this treaty - which few people really understand. It has become a pop culture reference, instead of a scientific point of reference. And, no secret, it has been one of the most mishandled, poorly managed public policy files in Ottawa...for years, almost a decade in fact.

When the first committment period of the Kyoto treaty is a mere three months away and Canada's GHG emissions remain - predictably - at 30% or more above our target, it is indeed time to throw in the towel. Not to throw in the towel on the actual long-term dynamic of trying to evolve our economy and adjust to climate change impacts...but to concede that, as far as the piece of paper is concerned, we are not going to make it.

The Liberals knew it, as early as 2002 and 2003. Dion must have known it when the Green Plan was overhauled. The Conservatives had known it all along - but they don't get 'wiseman points" for knowing something as obvious as that - nor do they qualify for 'sympathy points', seeing they would have preferred the entire issue just went away.

Yes, folks, last night was the much overdue public funeral of the idea that Canada could, would, was in position to, ever meet its self-imposed Kyoto commitments. Somehow, it doesn't feel like an end of an era, more like a beginning of another, less idealistic and less misguided era.



What I Love About Politics

Last night I was at my drawing class during the Speech From the Throne, but I was home for the build-up. I love all the hoopla around these things because it's really only a few select people who really give a crap about them and their potential election results. The only reason it plays so big in Ottawa is that there are simply so many people working in some capacity attached to a political party and they don't want to lose their job. The rest of us don't really care because let's be honest, being legally entitled to 3 hours away from work to go vote isn't exactly something the Canadian public dreads.

Elections take about 10 minutes of our time depending on the line up at the polling station so not one single voter is anxious about any election speculation. Sure there's a few extra road signs and too much crap on the radio, well too much election talky talky rather than pop stars but still crap. But all in all, an election is no great shakes unless you could lose your job or be required to report on politicians for 30 days. I'd be fearing one too.



Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Mission Mistatement

The other day I was asked what the point is to this blog. It really bothers me that I need a reason to do anything. The honest answer is that there is no point to it. The snarky answer is that the whole point is to annoy people with no sense of humor who need to find a point to everything and debate every minor passing jokey comment you make until the earth is as emptied of humor and fun as it is potable water and clean air.

I know it's the wrong format, being on the internet and all, but I'm not really interested in debating anything anymore - ever. I find it really hard to pretend I care about things I don't care about and I find it a lot harder to spend time talking about anything I don't find interesting or debating everything in some pathetic attempt to give my sad little life more meaning by seeking truth in the least fun way possible. Sorry, I'm too busy trying to figure out what kind of secret doorway is better - fake library shelves or trap. I care too much about enjoying every fleeting moment to waste my life in endless debate that doesn't ever inform me about anything. Oh wait, it's not debate that bothers me it's probably just your opinion . I guess that's why I like big parties - there's always someone else to talk to.



Thursday, October 11, 2007

That's that then

Huh, didn't really expect those results for the referendum. I’m not surprised by the actual election results – too bad about Hilier though, although he will now provide us with enough headlines and content to keep things fun for a while. Still, yikes on the MMP vote. From my informal office poll people just didn’t know anything about it so didn’t go for it. The common sentiment was to stick with the devil you know. Some of them even went to find out more and they had the same problem I did in that even the supporters didn’t really have any information about it other than the pure basic you vote twice spiel. I was kind of hoping it would have been closer to fuel more debate on it and come up with a better proposal for proportional representation.



Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Secret Headquarters

Finally I can get that underground lair I've always wanted. Sure, it's no volcanoe island shaped like a human skull but an underground Titan missle silo is pretty cool nonetheless.

Soon I will be victorious.



Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Blindfold and Cigarettes

Today is the last day of the Ontario election. I guess I'm celebrating it with about as much indifference as the start of the election. Really, I'm more concerned by how I can't get the picture to format properly in my "Currently Reading" section of this blog than I am about who wins what in the election. I always vote, but this time, in my riding, it really just feels like choosing which lawyer I dislike the least and then deciding how generous I'm feeling towards MMP when I'm in the booth. Good mood gets a yes vote, bad mood gets a no because really I haven't been convinced about the system presented. I think it's well intentioned but severely lacking in many regards that you don't need to be bored with at the moment (and I really don't feel like answering comments).

I'm not going to try and convince anyone about it one way or the other because the more I think about it, the more I really just don't give a flying fuck what the political system is as long as I can take part in it.



Friday, October 5, 2007

Let's get our own announcers

I'm happy that hockey is back and that the Sens have started well by beating the Leafs twice. I missed Wednesday's season opener which looked to be a dandy - hell, Redden had 2 fights! I might actually come around to liking Redden if he develops this crusty old man attitude towards the game. Then again, he took a four minute penalty last night for telling the ref to do something sexually impossible.

The only thing that really annoyed the piss out of me was having to listen to the utter drivel spouted by Bob Cole. I'm glad the game only lasted an hour because any longer and Toskola (the Leafs goalie) would probably have given birth to the second coming of Christ Listening to Cole yammer on and on and on about how amazing Toskola played was akin to watching a documentary about strippers or porn stars who yammer on and on and on about how this career was their choice and something their proud of/happy to be doing. After a while the refrain simply isn't convincing to the audience and you realize they are trying to convince themselves with it. Not that I think strippers or porn stars or Maple Leafs fans are bad or stupid, I just kind of think they're going out of their way to try and sound convincing. Kind of like how people tell you they like their commute.

So while Toskola was busy saving the world by stopping pucks, Redden took a four minute penalty and if Cole is to be believed he also either blocked a shot or shot at his own net while in the penalty box. Clearly when the Sens and Leafs clash it is a clash of Titans that rips the space time continuum asunder so a man can be in two, possibly three if he came from a separate universe and was signed by the Leafs, places at once.

Funny, how this amazing goalie still lost. I'm glad hockey is back, I just need to start muting the CBC broadcast so I don't have to listen to someone try and convince me the losing team is better than the one I support. Is it any wonder Senators fans feel like their team is the Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL. They went to the cup finals and all I heard about during the play by play was how the Leafs were going to the playoffs this year and would be trying for the cup. How about they win a game first before the play by play man starts telling me about how the Leafs are going to make the playoffs again (maybe). Who knows, maybe they will, I mean the space time continuum was ripped asunder last night by Wade Redden so anything is possible.



Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Please, for the love of God, vote for MMP, Ontario!




All right, so normally, I tend to vote how I feel. However, if I was in my parents' riding, I would, without hesitation or any consideration, be voting for Ian Wilson, the Liberal candidate for Lanark, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington.

He seems good. That said, there's really only one reason to vote for him. His Regressive Progressive Conservative opponent is the one, the only... Randy Hillier. You see, Randy Hillier is the nutjob former leader of the Lanark Landowners Association, which has morphed into the Ontario Landowners Association now.

Randy's frightening to small children and progressive bloggers alike. However, even John Tory is trying to avoid Randy Hillier.

In case that article won't be available much longer, I cut and paste the relevant text:

"John Tory, PC:

Worst moment: Avoiding his own right-wing candidate, Randy Hillier, in the VIP tent at the International Plowing Match, the province’s largest agricultural fair, this week in Crosby. Mr. Tory entered the tent and froze when he saw Mr. Hillier. (Liberal operatives hope to snap a picture of the two men together in a bid to undermine Tory’s moderate remake of the party.) Mr. Tory then left the tent to regroup and came back in several minutes later, surrounded by a small group of people. The two men never shook hands."

Yes he's that scary that his own potential boss doesn't want to be seen with him.

OK, I won't continue with the defamation. However, this is a good reason for MMP - I'm sure just about every straight-headed progressive in that riding will vote for Ian Wilson regardless of political affiliation, and it would be unfair to force them to vote for one or the other in this multi-party democracy. This is why we need to have a mixed system, so that the likes of Randy Hillier CAN be defeated and our preference among the other parties can also be acknowledged.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Scrooge McDuck Recognized


The Scotsman reports that Scrooge McDuck has been selected by the Glasgow City Council to be added to the list of Famous Glaswegians. He joins such luminaries as Sir Alex Ferguson, Mo Johnston, Robert Carlyle, Franz Ferdinand (the band, not the Archduke), and Groundskeeper Willie.


If you ever need something to read, I cannot recommend The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck by Don Rosa enough. It is a tour de force of cartooning, and the biographic nature of the storytelling is staggering and impressively enjoyable. What Don Rosa does, is fill in the gaps of the Charles Barks' Duck Tales stories (yes, they were the basis for the fantastic cartoon) which are also being collected for the modern audience. If you know anyone who would appreciate adventure stories, these are the comics for them, but honestly, whether you've ever read a comic or not, I can guarantee you will love The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. It is one of the better books in print these days.

Who do you think would be on the list of Famous Ottawans? That opium dealer from that one Plastic Man comic back in the thirties? Alanis?





Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quick Follow-Up

After yesterday's announcement that a third CFL team would be brought to Ottawa by benefactors under Charlie's Angel levels of mystery by out phallicly shaped mayor, it has come to light that one of them may be that guy from Minto. They developed a lot of stuff in Ottawa and are one of the culprits of the revolutionary design of our buildings.

With that in mind I've decided to use the power of imagination (not unlike the Muppet Babies) and advanced sticky-note technologies to give you the first plans of the Minto Stadium redesign for Frank Claire Stadium.


Take in that beigey glow of awesomeness. If they actually manage to get a CFL team, I've already claimed 3 seasons in the pool. Hey, I'm an optimist.

Also, we need to get the team called The Ottawa Beige. I'm sure if I start an online petition we can make it work just like it's worked for getting lawn signs our of elections, getting Jedi as a religion on the census and stopping spam.




Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Third time's a charm

So, Mr. Mayor who is totally in touch with the average slob, has announced that he's in talks with some mysterious benefactors to bring a CFL team back to Ottawa. Because, it's totally what we all want right now what with the lower deck of the south side ready to collapse and the Liebermans ruining two CFL teams from Ottawa.

How does that saying go? You know, the one about doing things the same way repeatedly hoping for a different result?

Fix the stands, put some real lawn on the surface and create a Wimbeldon like complex for soccer in the heart of the city. Personally, I'd like to move the Sensplex there brick by brick but having a major arena there probably isn't the best location - ideally it would be where the convention centre is or on Lebreton Flats.



Sunday, September 23, 2007

Who bears the responsibility for climate change?



Last week, San Francisco District Judge Martin Jenkins ruled that it is impossible to determine to what extent automakers are responsible for climate change damages in California.

It might shock those of you who know me that I'm saying this. I agree with this decision.

Cars and automobility are a symptom and a symbol. They are not the cause of emissions; they're just where they are most concentrated (well, them and our houses). Energy use, for the large part, is the source of emissions. And I'll look here, very briefly, at personal uses of energy, because it affects industrial emissions; industrial emissions are largely the result of producing materials that either make up the goods that we purchase, or at least go towards making those products.

The problem is that many neighbourhoods and urban areas are just not designed for people to get around by any means other than a car. I mention urban areas because that's where the majority of us live. The services that people utilize in their day-to-day life are just too far to depend on foot or bicycle transportation, or even public transportation in some cases(e.g. doctors, grocery stores, other shopping). Since this is a case that was brought forth in California, I'll use an example from out there. If you live in the circuitous labyrinthine neighbourhoods of, say, Irvine or Mission Viejo, then, really, can you imagine not having a car? You'd be stranded. This is a major issue throughout much of the U.S., and to a lesser extent throughout Canada as well - Mississauga comes to mind. A couple of years ago, I stayed with a friend who lived very close to Square One mall in Mississauga. This showed me that distance isn't necessarily the sole problem. The proximity to the mall almost didn't matter, even though it was walking distance (about 1 km). It just wasn't a safe walk, because of the lack of sidewalks.

It's easy to scapegoat the production industries, such as the auto industry and the oil and gas industry. But really, they only provide the means; if the demand for their products were curbed, then this would be a non-issue (or course, then we could get into the discussion of how they create demand through marketing, which may be as much of the source of the problem as anything; it's probably worthy of another post. However, if people (or that other word we use for people these days, consumers) were thoughtful about their purchases, this would be a non-issue). That's an important issue - how to curb demands for industrial products without curbing quality of life.

Let's keep in mind, also, that quality of life is different from standard of living. Just because someone has a higher standard of living and is able to acquire more, doesn't mean they have a great quality of life.

I believe that urban spaces have a lot to do with this. In Canada, we're a very urbanized country; 64% of us live in urban areas of more than 100,000 people. These spaces can be designed such that they require less use of resources and demand of us less purchase of goods. They're not, however; housing and mixed-use developments such as Dockside Green are still the exception to the rule.

Bringing this back to Ottawa, there are many parts of town where it is impossible to live without a car. Lamentably, the cost of living in those parts where it may be possible to do car free living is higher (particularly for property ownership, even for condos) - though if one can do it without the $700/month average car ownership costs, it does bring down the price.

I was at a conference on energy efficiency earlier this year. There, Nils Larsson of The International Institute for a Sustainable Built Environment brought up the four types of energy required - construction (or embodied) energy, operational energy, maintenance energy and commuting energy. He also mentioned that while we are able to use less energy per unit of floorspace to maintain comfort, the benefits of this have been lost through an increase in the size of the average new build house in Canada (by 50% over the past 10 years). Given that there were ministers of energy and environment from several countries in attendance, I was very impressed to see someone speak like this in a forum, about how choices that we make in lifestyle link to energy. Too bad the person making the final statement at the conference didn't have it in him to incorporate Mr. Larsson's statements.

I'll finish this off on a final thought. I don't know if this is a chicken or an egg case. I really don't know if this is because people want bigger homes with bigger lots, or if it's because developers want to build cookie-cutter homes and developments on big lots. I do believe that at least some of those that run urban planning departments in many cities are, on this point at least, either intellectually lazy or simply incapable of winning these fights against the developers.

And worse, I don't know if we really have the interest to tackle climate change as a population. If people decide that it's worthwhile to commute 45 minutes each way to work in a car by themselves so that they can have their 3000 sq.ft. house in the suburbs and drive everywhere they want to go, and if this is simply considered a normal, desirable life goal... what hope do we really have? I'm not asking for us to return to hunting and gathering and foraging; the planet can't feed 6.5 billion people now, or 9 billion people by 2050, if they do that. I ask us to look at the best practices out there for urban development, and for lifestyles, and to mimic those. I may, in a later post, try to list what, to me, are the top options for people to reduce their impact on the climate.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Praise the Lord!

That Catholic School Board I wrote about yesterday decided to allow the HPV vaccine.

Reason triumphs.

Satan laughs.



Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This little light of mine...

While the real newsmen are as happy as pigs in shit that Dion’s party totally fucked up the Quebec by-elections (so they can just change a few sentences in their mound of reprinted “Dion is totally screwed” articles), I feel it is my job as a so-fake-I-don’t-even-pretend-to-be-a-newsman to shine my flashlight into the oft-ignored underbelly of the by-elections. Of course I mean how the Green Party really is falling into obscurity. Sure they got a new leader, got rid of most of their troublesome staff and tend to be asking for a lot more money these days (apparently to get shudders that go with the new house in New Glasgow aka their election “hope chest”) but they have momentum right?

I mean they finally have all the ingredients to actually become the political force they remind us they are/want to be. They have a leader that people: actually know, listen to, and gets press. They have federal funding and a big upsurge in members (at least they should) as well as success in the last round of by-elections (except that they forgot to register that candidate in Quebec – oops). This should be something they eat up and manage to use to their advantage, especially when there is such a major shift in the political landscape. By-elections are where small parties make their breakthrough, so why didn’t it happen here with the Greens?

In fact they’ve reversed their trend as of the last election. All ridings went down in vote percentage except Saint Hyacinth-Bagot. Sure it slipped 0.1% but that’s pretty negligible. Outremont had the Greens at 2.2% from 4.8% and Roberval-Lac Saint-Jean had the Greens at 1.7% from 4.3%. Alarming trends, if I was involved in planning on having a Green Party around after the next federal election.

This doesn’t seem like a party building on its momentum. It should be able to use the base federal funding to drive in enough new members and contributions to send the party out of a consistent last place. I’m sure up until this point the party has just been coming up with many horrifically complex systems to make sure the associations get some of the federal funding rather than go out into the community to fundraise, raise awareness, and attract members and ever better candidates – you know, politics? I know most outsiders looking in are wondering why the party can’t seem to capitalize on its apparent growth and momentum and I guess maybe I know too much and not enough at the same time. Although I’m pretty sure anything I guess and exaggerate isn’t too far from the truth because I’ve seen them operate and tried to fix it for a few years. It’s like trying to teach a cat to play to banjo. After a certain point you just have to admit it was stupid to even try because it simply won’t happen, no matter how stubborn you are.

The candidates will blame the party, the party will blame the associations, they’ll all complain about lack of money, nobody will actually do anything worthy of getting a vote or improving their situation and we’ll see how things turn out in the next election. I think these by-elections are a good litmus test for where the party will end up. I mean things certainly can’t be going well when you’ve got all the ingredients for more success and you’re doing worse.

There was a lot of optimism, in some cases renewed optimism, in the Greens when their leader finished second in the London by-election. Where was she for these by-elections? It makes me wonder how committed she is to the party’s success compared to her own? Why hasn’t the party been able to simply get its shit together and be able to challenge for seats, when people are tuned into the message? It makes me wonder how utterly incompetent you have to be to not be able to come up with an appealing platform to voters who want environmental change?

I guess it is just easier to blame first-past the post for your own failings than actually work hard at becoming appealing to the voters.

It will be interesting to see if the Green Party survives after the next federal election.


St. Guano-Loco is from Ontario and the patron saint of misogyny

Today will see a plethora of jackassery. And not simply because September 19th is "Talk like a pirate" day.

Nope it just all seems to happen at once. I just read about how the Halton Catholic School Board is considering to not allow public health nurses to administer the HPV vaccine to grade eight girls. Because, they say, HPV is sexually transmitted and sex is only permissible in marriage. Well, Satan get behind me because I’m thinking this is further proof that absolutely no public funds should be given to faith based schools. They do not want to inoculate your daughters against cervical cancer.

This is batshit insane.

Whether they have sex in marriage or out of it, women can still get HPV which leads to cervical cancer and die if they do not receive the vaccine at this young age. It's not about admitting your daughters are tramps, it's about preventing cervical cancer at a later age. Cervical cancer does not really care when you have sex. It kills you regardless. This isn't about belief or faith, it's about preventing 80% of cervical cancer in women (including 80% in married women you jackasses).

I should just forget about it and buy stuff for an exceptional discount on Amazon when the dollar reaches parity (even with shipping). That will help me forget about a religious group getting public funds then refusing to protect young women.


Peter and Paul

Today I heard about the government's plan to rob Peter in order to pay Paul. Peter is the money going to conservation and helping out migratory birds in Canada. Paul is climate change.

I wonder if Harper knows that Paul has been convicted of embezzlement numerous times and is know to drink and lie a lot about where the money is. Why doesn't he just take the money across the river and put it all on black? It would make more sense than pretending he's actually going to maybe eventually do something about climate change, if it even exists.



Monday, September 17, 2007

Canada's history - abridged yet again

On the weekend, an out-of town friend and I had a good look at the statues of the 'Valiants' , the fourteen bronze statues of military heroes from our past that stand on the overpass near the end of the Rideau canal.

I asked my buddy - "What two prominent figures are missing from this collection?"

It didn't take long for a response...of course, General Wolfe and Marquis de Montcalm are missing. Most of us would give the same answer if we stopped to think about it for a minute.

We both agreed that this is yet another example of Canadian bureacratic pussy-footing around some obvious historical facts. To have a war-related memorial and to profile Canada's military past without mentioning the two central leaders in the most pivotal battle ever on our soil, the Plains of Abraham, is like having a rock n'roll hall of fame without the Beatles or Jimi Hendrix. And it is also an example of hypocrisy because the 'Valiants' contains at least two figures from our past (Count Frontenac and D'Ibreville) who had been, in their era, actively engaged in the British-French conflicts in what was later to become Canada...so, no one should be able to play the politically correct card and say, "oooh, can't have Wolfe and Montcalm there, it's too controversial."

For starters, I have no problem with WHO is among the so-called Valiants. I also have a good feeling about having a monument in Canada's capital that simply acknowledges good, competent soldiers and commemorates acts of individual heroism in miltary struggles. All of the people portrayed there had served either our country or the predecessor countries, England and France, some of them died, some died while saving others, and some of them had lead our armed forces to significant victories. Isaac Brock, to name one, can be credited with having saved the 'country that was yet to be' from American takeover in the War of 1812. These are no small deeds.

So, I ask, why not Wolfe and Montcalm? They were both, according to historians, brilliant and - for their era - gallant soldiers. Both had distinguished themselves in actual hand-to hand combat in their youth, and later became leading strategists of the time. Both died in the eventual battle in Quebec City; a reminder of another, much more dangerous time, when generals actually commanded their troops into the line of fire and faced bullets along with common soldiers. So, physical bravery is not at issue. Neither is compassion at issue, as both men were known to treat non-combatants and captures enemies very humanely, at least by 18th century standards. When taken, the city of Quebec was not sacked and pillaged, its people were not harassed or forced to convert. Finally, Wolfe's and Montcalm's importance, albeit almost accidentaly, is so central to the birth of Canada (and to its evolution as a bilingual and bi-cultural nation) that they should tower over any other of the otherwise brilliant 'heroes'.

Of course, we know two possible answers to why these men are not standing in their bronze liknesses at the memorial: Political cowardice, or plain old lack of perspective.

I think here is a symbolic cause waiting to be taken up by a local politician.



Fight Back with Pink

This is absolutely brilliant.

Stories like this remind me that things get better the more exposure kids get to different ideas rather than being isolated at schools (such as faith based schools, Catholic system included).

Good on them for doing what too few high school boys would ever have the balls to pull off. This makes an honest difference in the world.



Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Area Commission Satirized

I haven't read The Onion online in quite some time, so I find it kind of telling that when I did today this is the story I come across. It's like they were visiting Gatineau or possibly attending a Council meeting for the political party I used to work for.

I particularly like the line "Over the course of the six-and-a-half-hour meeting, the only variation on the endless monotony of inconsequential concerns was the occasional tone of entitlement."

Fun times.



Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Veiled Thoughts

I think Elections Canada got it right.

I think women who chose to wear a facial covering should be able to vote without revealing their faces. I also think Elections Canada was slightly too expedient in their process though. People like to be asked before someone else makes a decision on their behalf. And with good reason, Muslim women are now uneasy about having the spotlight shone on them in Quebec because of something they didn’t actually ask for.

The reasons I think Elections Canada got this right are probably a bit facile to the rest of you. Firstly, I think anything that makes the voting process more accommodating to everyone is a good thing. Voter turnout is low and this allows more people to vote without really interrupting their lifestyle choices or religious faith. I really don’t think this will lead to widespread voting corruption scandals. Fear of that is really just a disguised racist fear. Secondly, just because there is the right doesn’t mean it will actually be invoked by anyone. It wasn’t an issue before, anywhere, so it probably won’t be now. So I think we should just all chill out because this is just saying “you don’t have to if you don’t want to” before someone took the nation to court over a violation of their rights as a Canadian. Not that I think it would necessarily happen but if this wasn’t decided upon by Elections Canada then it is much more likely that it could.

Also, you can vote even if you don't actually have any identification but can get a sworn statement that you are who you claim to be. Say you've had a house fire and lost all identification the night before an election or you were robbed or some other circumstance (veil not required). At least that's how I remember the Canada Elections Act, it has been a while though.

I’ve already heard of these people in the by-elections protesting that the people at the counter don’t know if the person voting is really the person voting and this is somehow a bad thing (even though you provide I.D. to vote as the person and nobody has since shown up to vote a second time unveiled). I mean how often does someone steal someone else’s identity in order to elect the candidate of their choice? I mean honestly, this isn’t the 1800’s or Chicago in the twenties. If you provide official identity you get to vote, it’s simple. There are no major identity theft rings created for the purpose of voting – buying gasoline and computers online, sure, but voting? C’mon, get a grip.

That being said, it will be interesting to see just how utterly racist Quebec really is during the Taylor-Bouchard Commission hearings. I find it funny that a culture that is extremely Catholic claims to be secular. It’s like discussing the canon of being Canadian or Quebecois. I heard an outtake this morning about how it was terrible that Sikhs could wear turbans if they were in the RCMP. As if being Canadian is determined by “not turban wearing” which I’m sorry, is racist bullshit. But don’t get me wrong I don’t think these feelings are limited only to Quebec, I’m sure they are present across Canada it’s just that Quebec has Herouxville.

This all sounds like a lot of baseless fears. Hmmm, who else believed in a religious conspiracy to take away from a specifically limited cultural definition then used that as a way to deflect from any serious issue until mobs were formed to rid themselves of a global conspiracy to poison pure cultures?



Monday, September 10, 2007

No more a girl, and, well, sort of a woman

I admit I was not home during the MTV awards. I was down in Kingston, kayaking on the St.Lawrence, more worried about my boat taking on water in the waves than worried about whose public stock has risen or plummetted, or about who made a splash across the scandal-hungry media pages (bad puns, all around).

I do admit to having read about the MTV awards, though. Yeah, thirty five and still interested in the 'charts'...I was kind of hoping to see who won what award and if anyone among the performers I actually like made it to the podium. In my rather naive viewpoint, these events are still supposed to be about achievement, talent, and giving something back to the fans...and not primarily about who is wearing (or not wearing) what and who will make a stupid remark.

Now, enter the Ottawa Citizen. Their lead-up to the coverage of the said ceremonies was Britney Spears and her attempt to emulate a stripper. Point for Britney, zero for the Citizen. I had to search through the rest of the Arts section to find out who was actually awarded for what (and, yes, Shakira did win something, so the world is essentially unfolding the way it should).

Why am I so put off by the Citizen's coverage?...hmm, let me count the ways...

First, the article was a living proof that even a slightly above-the average paper in a big Canadian city will go for the obvious, albeit lame, hint of ' sleaze and scandal' instead of focusing on someone else who is actually accomplishing interesting things. Britney's slightly sagging midriff is bigger news than singers like Shakira, Kaney West and Justin Timberlake who actually have some talent, actually are recording and selling albums and happen to be in constant play across dance floors. It reminded me of huge amoung of coverage of Eddie 'the Eagle' in the ski-jumping competition, back in the Calgary winter olympics, the last-place finisher, rather than Matti Nykkanen, the winner (and one of the best ski jumpers to ever fly off the 90 m jump).

Second, there was such a palpable sense of schadenfreude in the coverage of Britney. Let her rest, don't give her any more headlines, for God's sake. The media vultures, sensing someone's reputation will fall by the wayside, are lining up to feast on the fast-cooling but still-twitching body. Speaking of body, I find it offensive that so much attention was directed at the fact Britney's bod no longer the super-buff, preternaturally toned and sleek machine but more of a 'natural' looking 25-year old woman's body. Gents, you know what I mean when I admit to liking normal girls, normal women, with a bit of flesh around the hips and some pleasing curves. Britney may not be bright but she is still sexy. To send the message that anything else than the gym-honed, traithlete-like figure is 'sexy' is to further add to the inferiority complexes that just about every young female out there seems to have...

Last but not least, she lip-synchs. The horror, the horror...Hasn't this lip-synching stuff been around for the last 20 years, ever since bands starting running around and having intricate dnace/floor shows, with acrobatic-type moves? How 'bout Janet Jackson or scores of other pop stars?

So, basically, I regret to see - yet again - a terribly shallow approach to media coverage of anything to do with pop music. And, I'd sleep with Britney, for sure. We might not sit around and talk about existentialism or the history of diplomacy, but I'd still sleep with her.