Five Questions: Blogcritics Comments Editor Christopher Rose

It's been a while since my last FQ segment but it's back now. The issue of comments community and its impact on general public discourse is an interesting one. In this light, I decided to invite comments editor Christopher Rose at Blogcritics. Let's take a look at some of his thoughts.

Blogcritics.org is a popular online blogging magazine.

1) In your opinion, how would you rate the quality of the comments on Blogcritics? How does it compare to other sites?

In general, the quality of comments on Blogcritics is quite good. As with any large community and particularly because the site does not toe any party line but welcomes all points of view - we get a few disruptive elements, but that's why we have a comments editor in the first place. My role is an odd blend of policeman and janitor; I have to restore order when things get ugly and clean the place up if we get offensive comments or spam.

2) Take us through a typical day. How many comments do you read and how long does it take to siphon or overlook them?

I do a lot of work online with my own sites and my PPC marketing activities but always make time at the beginning of my day for Blogcritics. We get up to 500 comments every day so it is pretty time-consuming and continuous work that needs to be done all day (and night) long!

3) Are you satisfied with the BC comment community? That is, the number of comments and its quality – or lack thereof in some cases.

One of the main things that really bugs me about the commenters is when people are so sure of the rightness of their own position that they sometimes tend to dismiss other people's views, when in fact every worthwhile community has, indeed needs, a broad spectrum of opinions. Sometimes people lose their respect for and tolerance of the positions of people who think differently to them. This seems especially true of contemporary USA, which is unfortunately particularly polarised at the moment.

The other thing that bugs me is when people refuse to adapt or learn when they write things that we are never going to tolerate, such as outright abuse, and keep making the same type of remarks repeatedly. There is a fair bit of pressure in the editorial group to ban such repeat offenders but I prefer to just keep editing and/or deleting such remarks rather than banning people. Why have a comments editor at all if banning is all that is required? Anybody can do that but balancing a myriad of different people and perspectives demands more thought and time.

4) What have you learned since becoming comments editor at Blog critics?

Patience is one of the main things!

5) BC has a comments policy that everyone should adhere to. Indeed, not all people will follow it. Does this provide added stress? How can a policy be balanced with the concept of freedom of speech?

I like to think of our comments policy as more of a guideline than something that should be handled in a "letter of the law" kind of way. There are always situations that, in the context of an excessively rigid code, would HAVE to be handled in a particular way. Life is frequently too complex or nuanced to be handled like that. I don't really see that as adding stress; stress is handling the never-ending stream of comments individually rather than mechanistically.

Freedom of speech is obviously a very important concept, particularly in the context of governmental or social oppression towards any group. On the other hand, it is not some universal right that allows anybody to say anything to anybody at any place or time. For example, if some hate-motivated speech is made in a public forum, that's just about okay, at least we know who the haters are. However, if I am the target of hateful speech at work or, even more crucially at my home, that simply can not and will not be tolerated. If someone comes to my door and is hating on me and my family, there's going to be trouble!

Christopher's bio: A lifelong fan of Manchester United and a passionate lover of music, I have often been accused of doing too many projects at once. This may be true.

These currently include doing PPC marketing, writing a whole bunch of intermittent blogs covering everything from dieting to robots and I rent a luxury holiday villa in Southern Spain if you're thinking of a holiday!

I am also very delighted and proud to be one of the editorial team for Blogcritics, currently serving as Comments Editor and Admin/Moderator for the new BC Forums.


Go Canada Go! The folly of attaching a rising dollar to national pride

The Economist recently described Canada's jubilation after achieving parity with the U.S. dollar as schadenfreude.

Schaden-shmigaloid is a German word that more or less translates into taking 'pleasure taken from someone else's misfortune.'

There is indeed a certain element of truth to this. While Canada is benefiting from high commodity demands from China, many other factors come into play when it comes to any currency - among them an investors perception about how they view a currency. With the American economy facing certain recessionary threats, Canada is taking full advantage to explode in nationalist fury.

Though not everyone is impressed. As we all know, a high currency has all sorts of implications both negative and positive. But that's not the point here.

As I have argued in the past, it doesn't just apply to symbols of currency. Canadian nationalists make it a habit of measuring our strengths and successes against the backdrop of American weaknesses or failures. We are in a constant glaze of navel-gazing up here. In our continuous search to define the Canadian identity we haven't satisfied ourselves.

Where has it gotten us as I observe the meteoric rise of the loonie? It can be summarized thusly: We are not American or the more diplomatic "at least we are not American."

Remember I mentioned perception? Well, this is how I perceive things.


9/11 Conspiracy Theories: Madness

I never get into a debate with conspiracy theorists. It's hard to debate someone who presumes you are naive or a stooge for the government. More importantly, their standards of how to treat facts are hopelessly flawed. It really is circular sophistry when you ponder it.

The irony is that while they claim all they are looking for is the truth they are extremely insular in how they go about finding it. Intellectualism has no end point. However, to 9/11 conspiracy theorists intellectualism and the search for truth ends with them.

Absurd. Of course.

In the spirit hills, Dante, Bacon, Newton and Galileo are sitting somewhere in the Tuscan countryside sharing apples and wine nodding disapprovingly- and even possibly frightened.



Writing Odysse 2007

Every once in a while I revisit past posts. When I first started blogging in late 2004 I simply dove in. It was a race to get down in writing years of ideas and pent up imaginations without much regard to grammar or editing. I figured get the idea or content down and let the people sort things out. That wasn't very sporting of me now was it? Well, that and the fact that I freely confess I am not grammatically sound.

My sisters on the other hand are far superiour than me when it comes to technical and artistic writing. I freely admit this too.

But I am what I am and what I am is a writer (still searching for that voice) at heart. Selecting what type of writing has proven elusive for me. Whatever it is, I wish I came to this realization sooner. I still can't devote the time needed to fully develop as a writer. However, there are no regrets. The route I took led me to different experiences.

Despite this, there is an invisible force that keeps dragging me into writing no matter where I try to take my life. There is a voice. The voice, for the record and FYI, sounds very much like the Great Gazoo.

It doesn't feel as though I have grown as a writer since 2004 but I have. How do I know this? By reading past posts in all its blogging glory. It's almost embarrassing. Slap to the forehead! Fret not. I am not hard on myself. I was not - to borrow a sports term - tactically aware. Though I take the editing process more seriously, I'm not a natural at it. I do a decent job but I never thought myself to be an editor. This much I know and knew.

It's now 2007 - almost three years later - and this blog still has an identity crisis. I know where I have been.

Now, where am I going?

For starters, to prepare a bowl of cereal.


Observation of the Month

Sometimes I wonder if we ever left the Middle-Ages. The proliferation of conspiracy theory websites and books is astounding. Pseudo-logic does not equal the truth.

No one knows the troof. But some are profiting by pretending to know it.

The Titanic Truth about the Titanic

Open your eyes people. I can't open mine. I just finished cutting an onion and poured Head & Shoulders in them.

Here's the link to the site if you want the truth and nothing but the truth.



My First Nations name

Running Bear. Sitting Bull. Dances with Wolves. Foghorn Leghorn.

What name do you think you would be born with if you were Native?

Mine would be:

Little Focus

God versus Godless

From the desk of God,

Maybe believing in God makes little sense, who knows? But atheism makes even less sense.

Call Rita.

Do the San Diego Chargers miss Marty Shottenheimer?


Article on Dan Rather's lawsuit

This comes from former CBS employee Robert K. Blechman who contributed this to Blogcritics.



Calling all Comments: How important is a comment's community?

Just got back from Vermont. Sorry. I had no time to investigate their secessionist movement. I was too busy pacifying my two-year old daughter who was permanently grumpy today. It was the first time we saw her in this mood. It was one of those things. Not even a Ben & Jerry's ice cream was enough to bring a smile on her face. Felt bad for the kid.

On to my post.

"You gotta fight every day to keep mediocrity at bay Gotta fight every day to keep mediocrity at bay Got to fight with all your might not to get in the bleeding heart's way." Van Morrison

A while ago I argued that YouTube should have standards. Today, I want to discuss the people who leave comments on internet sites.

Is a website only as strong as the quality of its content and comments?

If you're like me, you return to a site that has a witty comments section. You're also annoyed by the tiresome name-calling, selective bantering and repeated nonsense that poison some websites. Even over at Blogcritics, which has done so much for blogging, they are not without problems on this front. All it takes is one person to put a thoughtful conversation out of whack.

From there, it descends into a world of intellectual and moral depravity that would make Dante cringe. I'm sure many people have witnessed this in some form while navigating through the internet galaxy.

Now if you think it's harmless because there are always stupid people all around us, all I would retort is - fine. But do we have to arm them and give them a platform?

So how to deal with such people? Of course, there are no real answers. We're talking freedom of speech here. Striking a balance between what is an appropriate comment and what isn't is difficult.

Freedom of speech doesn't entail shooting your mouth off. Too many people run aimlessly amok with this sort of responsibility. It's especially easy behind the anonymity characteristic of posting online. People can act, well, tough behind a persona. Public forums are full of them.

The best thing is to ensure quality of content and enlightened community commentators that discourages people from leaving pointless vitriolic messages.

One difficult kind of commenter, for me, is one who is convinced that they know the truth about something and is angry that so many people can be swindled about buying a load of crap.

Good luck engaging them.


The Switzerland of North America?

I mentioned I'm going to Vermont tomorrow. It's a ritual of sort for us. Vermont is a quirky, quaint place. Liberal and hick-ish at the same time but we love it.

Anyway, I was searching for something and came across this article. Did you know that Vermont has a secessionist movement? Great, I escape one place who wants to break away from Canada to one that one who wants to leave the Union.

One person who supports the notion of Vermont going at it alone thinks the Green Mountain state is the Switzerland of North America. Break open the book Audrey and locate Swisser-land! A mild and casual knowledge of Switzerland would dismiss this thinking outright. Besides, who puts all their money in Vermont? If you know someone who does please call an intervention. Financial center it ain't, eh?

Can't we all just get along?

What do I think about all of this? Very little. None are rooted in pragmatism. In a hazel nutshell, there is much more to lose than gain in such endeavours. Do some states and regions deserve "autonomy" to some degree? Perhaps. Some posit good arguments. Still, the 19th century is that-a way. Or are we converging with the 19th century as the "Coming Anarchy" waits around the corner?


Now all this talk of secession-ism led me to track down secessionist movements in North America. Here's a link to wikipedia:


In the "let's chuckle for a moment category": Saskatchewan has a movement. Home of the Roughriders football team. New York City has one also. One movement that is not listed but has been tabled is that in the event of Quebec ever pulling off the impossible, Montreal would seek to secede from the new republic of Quebec. The Cree have also threatened as much.

Now that I will go for. I have ZERO interest in supporting Quebec city in their quest. Of course, they dismiss all this "Montreal will leave" talk but I'm sure it's with a nervous smirk. Montreal is the engine of this province and something tells me we could pull it off. Ironically, if there is one region in the province that is capable of leaving (and let's get one thing straight Quebec is not ready for any of this) its Montreal - not that I would ever advocate it.

Anyway, seems like there are many places to pacify on our big continent. Either we devolve and whither or maintain the nation-state - whose existence has been called into question in recent years. Which, in turn, make me think about British historian Niall Ferguson and his assertion that empires are not necessarily a bad thing.

First Denmark, now Sweden

Unreal. Always remember: we drove them to it.


You know things are askew when mild mannered Scandinavians are the subject of Muslim extremist wrath and scorn.

A history of the Canadian dollar

Here's a link to the Bank of Canada's history of the dollar. Given the recent performance of the loonie now's a good time as any to post this. It's an interesting read. Be sure to catch Cross Country Check Up with Rex Murphy on the CBC this Sunday (4pm to 6pm) about this subject. I won't - I'll be in Vermont.


The lost skill of counting money

Is it me or has counting money become a lost art? Let me explain.

My first "official" job - one where I had to wear a tie and play corporate silly games - was me playing a bank teller. Scratch that. It was right around the time titles were being changed across the corporate landscape. I was a "Customer Service Representative."

Like I said teller.

Before I go forward here's a true story. For free. No need for those "if you want to read the rest of this story you need to subscribe" fascist declarations here. What bull in this day and age to pay for newspaper articles online.

Keep to the story, TC. One of my coworkers took the title thing very seriously. She was the office secretary. Thought I was going to say slut, eh? Well, maybe she was I don't know. I can testify, however, that she was annoying. It's not as juicy as being a whore but it'll have to do here. She was one of those who believed she was bigger than her actual position.

Anyhow, I once told a client to go to the receptionist to make an appointment for something. I forget the details. I didn't keep a diary of those days. Poor you.

Well, she came storming to the wickets feeling quite insulted. "Did you tell that client I was a receptionist?"

By the way, secretaries had a special designation. I forget what it was. Back to the conversation.

"Er, yes."

"How would you like it if I told people you're a teller?"

"Hmm. Wouldn't bother me."


"Getting past the employment existential crisis, I can't get past the fact that I am a teller."

"No you're not! You're a CSR!" And with that she firmly declared and dictated what I was.

She then took her tall, fairly good looking body back to the front of the office. I would have made out with her right then and there. On the wicket that is.

I digress.

Back to the point of this post. When I was in training I was taught by career tellers. The one thing that stood out for me (besides all that stamping and debits and credits) was how fast and efficient they counted money. Not one to be easily impressed, it was pretty much what they were expected to do at the very least, no?

Nevertheless, it was a skill of sorts. I think that skill is all but gone now. I've had to go requeste some large business related withdrawals this summer and the one thing I noticed was how poorly people handled money. Two things came to mind. How rare is it for people to withdraw large sums of money exactly and is it a function of the rise of online banking and ATM's that tellers don't need to handle money as much? To say nothing that they no longer have cashes in front of them anymore.

It was funny but somewhat alarming to watch the recent teller struggle to count all those hundreds. It was sloppy. As she started all I could think to myself was, "Oh my lord."

And that's my story for today.


Of soaring loonies, Canadian pride and government intervention


As is usually the case in Canada, whenever the dollar soars, various industry people suggest the government steps in to "narrow this gap and that deficit" to protect one industry at the expense of another. All for the "betterment" of the nation of course.

What this accomplishes is arguably superficial at best. It's like when you push down one bubble with one hand but another pops up so you cover that one with your second hand. What happens when the third bubble comes up?

Look, I don't know exactly what the long term trends of the Canadian dollar are like. Heck, I rarely comment on economics given my limited knowledge with this elusive art. Though I would not be surprised to see the dollar inch higher. Trends do seem to be in its favour. Still, I leave the big boy stuff up to currency traders since exchange rates can be notorious to figure out.

However, my layman observations lead me to two simple conclusions. One is that the dollar is buoyed by the demand for resources and commodities. Duh. Canada is a semi-diversified economy that still relies on resources to drive large parts of its stock markets and economy. Which ties into my second point, the rise may have little to do with our ability to be cutting edge or competitive.

Canadians at large may not see any real advantages to a strong dollar unless they are nationalists and take great pride in having a stronger dollar than the United States. This sort of thing effects different people and industries in a multitude of ways.

One thing people complain about is how retail prices don't adjust to a rising dollar. Again, many factors play into this. Off the top of this mediocre head one possible reason that jumps out is that products are bought at different points in the cycle (hence different exchange rates) and retailers can't just change prices at the whims of a dollar's behaviour. The impact can be limited especially if they are buying their products for retail in Canada.

Just as it rose it can just as easily come tumbling down because, well, as I mentioned, we don't have a deep economy to keep a sustained rise.

On the other hand, the discrepancy should not persist. The invisible economic iron should steam over the wrinkles in due time.

If you're one of those people who are creeped out by the alleged gouging of retailers there are two things you can do: cross the border and go buy a book on business. Or you can go online to buy the book - or that plasma you're dying to have - you know, since it's a necessity.

And for the love of God, keep the government out of this for once! They only confuse things. Let the economy and market unfold naturally and as designed by the forces and individuals who drive it.


Article of Interest: Canadian politics: Are we that boring? If so, why?


Here's a blog post by historian and writer Christopher Moore.

Yes, there exists a community of frustrated Canadians these days. Unsure of its existence or purpose, they wallow in a world that is neither American, Canadian or even British at its core. They seem to be searching for something that Canada may not be able to live up to.

Part of the frustration may stem from, in part, the perception of our unrealized potential and that we don't seem to be moving forward in strengthening the country.

National Post columnist Andrew Coyne, the subject of the post, may be one of those Canadians. It does seem as though our politicians are clueless but that's a function of the system we operate in. In a decentralized federal system and in a regional country like Canada, it is contradictory that the Canadian parliamentary system can be so rigid - that so much power can be concentrated in one person.

I am sure there are many who share Coyne's dissatisfaction with the country's political landscape. Moore himself has written extensively about the political process in Canada and the democratic deficit it exhibits. To say nothing of the stiffness in Canadian parliamentary politics. If Canadian politics had a colour it would be charcoal. Why? Because as much as charcoal can be blah, it can become eclectic with the right match.

So if the political system itself may be part of the problem why we may have politicians who lack panache is there anything else? Is there some social factor in place?

There are many Canadian thinkers, writers, commentators (ahem) and journalists who want more from Canada. It's how we apply our concerns and national desires that distinguishes us. It is in this process that we tend to divide rather than unite.

On this front, we may not be any different from our friends in the United States.

I'll stop here.


France-Quebec-Canada relations: A strange isosceles triangle

The Parti Quebecois are a strange lot. For a party that has long memories they sure have selective minds. It's always been a strange fascination to watch us colonials fawn over French politicians who find the time to visit us. France, after all, once abandoned and cared little for Quebec.

Enter the fairly attractive but utterly visionless Segolene "Status quo c'est moi" Royal.

One can almost assure that if Quebec separates as Royal feels we should, that the French will not be there to pick us up when we fall. The Americans are more likely to react better.

This visit was better than the last as she refrained from making ill-judged comments that interfered in Canadian affairs.

Indeed, to watch French leaders come here and express "solidarity" with the sovereigntist movement rings hollow. It's comical to those of us who have shed our colonial colours. Our history shows that France seeks, like most nation-states, (though the French consider realpolitik more than most) soothes and aligns only where there interests are served.

I'm sure Paris would appreciate a Canadian nerd politician telling them that it's about high-time Bretagne seeks independence.

Aside from cultural realities, I can't see why we should pander to France. France is just another ally and brother in the Western alliance. We should but look one way - south. The United States makes a whole lot more sense than France. For me, watching the French come here resonates about as much as the Queen coming to Canada.

Other than the historical symbolic ties that bind, it has no true practical or substantial benefit to us anymore.

Segolene who?


Report on three important byelections in Quebec


The socialist NDP wins the wealthy district of Outremont. Talk about an oxymoron. The Liberals have been shut out - and deservedly so. The NDP, Conservatives and -gulp - the Bloc Quebecois all possibly won a seat. We''ll what all this strategically means for Harper.

Liberals are not smarter than conservatives


In my time on this planet, I've had the pleasure of meeting many interesting and intelligent people. For some reason, fortunate I have been to have had conversations with accomplished individuals who have contributed to my personal growth and development.

And this "study" is without a doubt contrary to my experiences. It makes no sense to me. I don't quite know why it's worked out this way, but in the last few years conservative minded or leaning people have tended to be quite engaging. In fact, nothing in my encounters suggests that liberals are "smarter." Zero. Zilch. Niente. Rien.

Personally, liberals have bored me to sleep.


Quackery or real medicine? The Miami Project


There are very few things scarier in sports than an athlete going down with a spinal injury that leads to paralysis. How sad is it when it happens to a young person? Football and hockey see their fair share of such incidences and often the chance of regaining movement is remote.

Until now? If the Miami Project has anything to say about it maybe people who suffer from severe spinal chord trauma may have hope.
Dr. Andrew Cappuccino applied this procedure for the first time on Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett who suffered a fracture and dislocation of his cervical spine. After surgery, he was still in critical condition. However, he has been able to regain some movement in his arms and legs.

If Everett makes it through, this may bring Miami Project out of obscurity and into the mainstream. And it may very well be deserved. Only time will tell.

Article of Interest: Politics: George W. Bush, Iraq and Factcheck.org

In his address to the nation, President Bush spoke about - get this - Iraq. As usual, many facts were thrown around. The good people at www.factcheck.org have analyzed them for people.



Article of interest: Politics: General Petraeus through the eyes of Reason Magazine


The Montreal Expos live on in strange places

We get pretty decent Major League Baseball coverage here. The Toronto Blue Jays get the priority but if they are idle or play on the West coast, the sports network do a good job of broadcasting other games. I've had my share of Dodgers, Angels, Tigers, Cubs, Yankees etc. games. Go Dodgers by the way.

We also get the Boston Red Sox. In watching Red Sox home games I've observed a curious but interesting image. Right behind home plate I always see someone wearing either a Montreal Canadiens cap or Montreal Expos. And I could swear there are not always the same person. I could be wrong.

Nonetheless, odd to see this right in the heart of Red Sox nation in a pretty tough sports town like Boston.

That's my sports observation for the there. As you were....


We've seen better days: Not the best week for sports


I'd like to see how the anti-Ferrari conspiracy theorists spin this episode. Stealing intellectual property is a serious offense. Couldn't believe that some local sports radio guy failed to see this. He actually did not see this as a problem! However, $100 million does seem like a tad excessive to levy on McLaren.

We're down on politics, we're down on sports. We're down on so many things. It's a good time to be a cynic lemme tell ya. Has anyone paid attention to cycling? Track? Seems like everyone is doing it.

You could just feel people were ready to jump on the feel good story that was Rick Ankiel - until it was alleged he purchased HGH. And then you could just as much hear the air deflate from the lungs of everyone. I betcha a lot of stories were halted mid-way in. Not that I mean to single out the St. Louis Cardinals former-pitcher-gone-awry-now-turned-outfielder - so, hello Troy Glaus of the Toronto Blue Jays!

This pales in comparison to what McLaren did see above link or what Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots did - that is record and steal play signs from the New York Jets.

Bah. The Pats are still a formidable football team.

Besides, Ankiel still has a shot at being a great story.

Oh well, oh well. Who said sports was honourable anyway? These are professional teams we're talking about and something tells me this has always been around. We just decided to report it. Either we were sleeping at the switch or we knew all along and decided to disclose it.

If you are partial to the latter then there is one question: Why now?
PS: The Pats bring new meaning to the term "consult the tape" now, eh?

Just as I suspected: Michael Moore is not an effective debater

I was watching a 20/20 report (I haven't watched that show in years) called Sick in America - "Whose body is it, anyway?"

Actually, I lied. I was watching the football game but the Montreal Alouettes were being spanked by the Edmonton Eskimos and I became irritated by the abysmal performance.

Da bums. Moving along.

It's nice to see some reporters actually remind people of the benefits of the private sector. It's not all doom and gloom on the private side. We've been fed such a heap of rotten hay about the only the bad side of privatization that it has skewed and warped our ability to comprehend basic laws of economics.

Apparently, everything government is good. After all, they are there to look after the collective good. It is claimed that our public system is compassionate. Everything we have is great - in theory. Let us not further forget that government is made up of, you guessed it, humans. And as humans we are flawed.

Government regulating many facets of our lives is paternalistic and elitist. Think of it. They are saying people can't do this or that or can't be trusted for that or this because, well, we're stupid and immoral.

The government is a one-way ticket to being stagnant and inflexible. It lacks innovation and we all know about the obscene wait lines. What do you get when you have a society dependent on government? One that fails to take responsibility for its own actions. As the system cracks, we look to, who else?, the government to solve it.

Here's the rub. They know public health is cracked. They are clueless and don't have any ideas about what to do about it. For this, they are looking to the private sector for solutions - all under the table of course.

This is not a partisan issue. It's about having the right to choose like we do any service or product.

There will be a moment of truth. It's not a matter of if but when. Canadians will have to realign their values and how they view public health. We can make it as painful or painless as we like - but it will happen.

In Canada, people are terrified about the private health care revolution under way because they do not understand it. They have a misinformed vision of the American system and its alleged immorality. And don't look to many in the media for help on this front. Only the really forward thinking journalists who don't buy into all this "public is better"mantra.

Am I suggesting there is no room for public services? Absolutely not. What I am saying is that there is room for a more active role from the private sector. The benefits to this are numerous.

Canada has the tools, talent and highly educated and trained doctors to make this work. They deserve a chance. We deserve a chance at something better. That is, if we truly are progressive as we claim to be. It's neither a bad thing to be pragmatic.

Now, I am well aware of the criticism surrounding John Stossel - the man behind the report. He's seen as a mouth piece for the right in some circles. Was it objective journalism? Probably not. But it made a whole lot of damn sense.

Which brings me to Michael Moore - who makes little sense. One way to judge an "activist" who holds the "truth" is to see how he or she can effectively argue the views they espouse in a conversation or debate. Maybe 20/20 is guilty of editing (but hey Moore does the same thing so hmpf) to make Moore look foolish. The again, it would not surprise me if he was naturally this way.

It was funny. My wife was watching it too and she's pretty much a-everything. She had no opinion of Moore. Her face was priceless as she listened to him.

"This is the guy people believe is enlightening Americans?"

Yes. Moore is a hero to some. For about a year I've listened to him paint a favourable picture of the Canadian and Cuban health system. What else can I say? He's wrong. In fact, to us Canadians who are very concerned he does us no favours.

The one thing that caught our attention - among sooo many - was how he half-assedly linked the notion of Canadians having a public health care system with living longer. It was an incredibly ignorant statement. He clearly did not do his homework.

He's not so tough or smart without his camera and an editing floor.

It is jerk-offs like him who never sat through our public system. If anything, it increases stress levels. I just had a friend tell me they waited nine hours to see a doctor for their sick child. Real healthy and normal.

One final thing: do you think for one minute Moore - with all his money - would ever go through a public anything? Send him a letter. See if he would ever put his money where his mouth is. Would he ever seek help in Cuba? Would he ever fly to Canada?

The reverse is what happens. Moore will go where ever the best services are and that usually means keeping his plump butt in the United States.

Look, it's all the rage now: Bash America. Throw Bush and Cheney in the mix and it's easy to see that the empire is about to collapse. Compare it to Rome and Vietnam. 9/11 was an inside job. And so on. It's a trend and Moore is milking it for all that it's worth.

They say people buy whatever the government tells them. They also buy whatever secular leftist celebrities sell just as equally.

I never see any solutions offered by him. Which makes him part of the problem. And why should he offer one? He profits from it. For this, he is smart.

Regardless, one thing is for sure. Things are not as bad as we tend to paint them to be.

And Rome, for the record, stood for a thousand years. We're a couple of hundred into the American republic.

Does the idea of American still resonate?

Elvis died last month. Well, thirty years ago anyway. Reading up about the period it's obvious that America was a different place back when he was rocking. Ralph Malph and Potsie were making us laugh, the Cleveland Browns were relevant and kitsch was so in.

A friend just came back from Europe recently - Italy to be specific. The one thing he said was - he may have murmured other things but I don't listen all that well - how Italians weren't as enamoured with American culture as they once were. Italy has always been pro-American for the most part. They're also pro-European Union. Anything so long as it drowns Italy the joke goes.
I think the attraction goes both ways. Ever notice how stores here like to Italianize their names? In Italy the reverse is true - they Americanize them.

Is the loss for lust of all things American among Italians a barometer of how bad things are? Imagine other countries?

It got me thinking. Once long ago, America was a beacon to the world - especially Western culture. The West needed some picking up following the decimation of its civilization during two mad world wars. America - and to a lesser extent Canada (America Jr. as Homer Simpson once called her) - was there.

America won hearts by the soft intoxicating power of its culture. You know, baseball, rock'n roll apple pies, Hot Rods and all that jazz. It captivated the world not with just its sports, music and film but politics as well. FDR, Ike and Kennedy were extremely popular abroad. It was all so - well, cool.

Could you imagine how much hope and sheer energy Chuck Berry, Bill Haley and the Comets and Elvis Presley brought to Europe? Especially those under communist regimes.

Today, everyone seems down on America. Europeans now look to themselves as they too question American leadership - though no one really believes - let alone fathom - for one second the world can do without the United States.

We don't have a monopoly on their souls anymore. We shouldn't mourn. Wasn't that part of the plan under the Monroe Doctrine? To rebuild the Europe aesthetically and spiritually? America did its part during Europe's darkest moment. Maybe they are living off this legend who knows?

Now it is America that is on a soul searching mission. Who will help Americnas in their time of need?

Who will play the part of an international Elvis Presley to lift their spirits?

Hail, hail rock'n roll?


Reasoning with Reasonable Accommodation in Quebec

"Reasonable accommodation" is all the rage now here in Quebec. Once again, it is this province leading the way in challenging - or at least debating - contemporary prevailing ideals in this country.

The debate cuts right to the heart and viability of multiculturalism - something that was never popular in Quebec to begin with. There is something deliciously contradictory in this given that Quebecers remain suspicious of English-speaking Quebecers! I am not encouraged by this fact.

Nevertheless, most Quebecers seem to think along "republican" lines and see the assimilation of cultures best absorbed with the melting pot theory prevalent in the United States.

Allegiance to two worlds is functional in theory and up to a point. When faced with a decision who do you think most people side with? Canada or their homeland? I suspect most, when they ponder hard and remove their understandable emotional ties, would side with Canada. One litmus test I like to use is if Canada plays someone in soccer who would you pull for?

Can a nation truly build a nation on the construct of multiculturalism in a country already fractured along provincial lines?

Canada may have taken on too much in search of the just society. It deserves credit for trying but is it working?

This is a young, immature society - and I don't mean this in a bad way. We chose the multicultural path because in part we failed to properly define the Canadian identity and superficially rejected the melting pot theory.

Either you go with Pierre Elliott Trudeau's vision of Canada (which included the multicultural theory) or the Franklin Theodore Roosevelt model - one which I am partial too. FDR once said being American is not a matter of race or origin but a matter of the heart.

Doesn't the melting pot theory address better the ideal of bleeding all the colours of the world into one the best?



Just a Random Spiel

Ever notice how people answer your concerns on a particular situation or issue with a "don't worry about!" or "no big deal!" or "you worry too much!" And so on.

Yeah. Irritating.

Ever further notice how they disappear when your concerns were well-founded?

Yeah. Fucking irritating.

So will they be there to worry with me?

Thought not.

Scary Social Thoughts from the Crypt

Sometimes, not always, but sometimes, Quebec is one big, bad, Creepshow. I was reading about the "Reasonable Accommodation" debate in Hull and came across this beauty from a person who stood up to address the esteemed panel.

It seems, the problem of foreign invaders can be attached to one of ignorance of the French language - a language Quebecers barely could speak or write themselves. Yeah, best they first learn it also I suppose. Anyhow, he said, "We have to be very strict about linguistic things." Fair enough I guess. Quebec identifies itself fervently on language. However, here's where the whole idea of freedom of expression and speech in Quebec becomes screwy.

He suggested people complain to the "L'Office de la langue francaise" (Office of Le Wet Paint) for stores that do not give proper services in French.

First, rare is it these days that French is not properly protected. In fact, the social awareness non-Francophone people have is quite high. If not out of respect for the French language then for outright fear (gulp) of being harassed and accosted by outfits like the OLF. Nice way to build a strong culture, eh?

Quebec's language laws, to nationalists, are a necessity. Perhaps. But they can not, on the other side of the intellectual fence, claim they are democrats. Some laws here are anti-democratic and trample on the rights of individuals. The minute those rights are challenged you cease to be a democracy at the social level. You pick your poison is one way of putting it.

The OLF is a kind of language police made up of parochial people armed with petty rulers and the power to fine (all backed by laws and the government of course. To make sure "les autres" stay in firm check) hard working citizens. I know people, even French-Quebecers - who were visited by them. Their sense of belonging and privacy were subsequently shaken to its core.

The OLF are a mild form of Black and Brown shirts who jump into the Bat-French Mobile at any complaint made by an insecure troublemaker. All in the name of protecting a culture.

Some culture.

Most Quebecers are unaware of this fact. I am convinced if they knew (or were subjected to) the middling actions of the OLF and its ilk they would not be pleased. Indeed, a colleague of mine was such a person. He began to watch English news and reading English papers to get a sense of what was going on and he was somewhat dismayed. "We do not get any of this coverage on the French side."

There is a plus to this. Quebecers and their mentality are prepared to defend their interests. Something Canada as a whole can learn from. However, like everything else moderation is paramount.

Francophones claim that the English are political. They believe they are far more progressive and open - in some ways they are. However, as a person of neither French or English extract who pays attention to both sides of the coin, in this commenter's opinion, it is the French who are far more politically charged. Recall, it is this place with a political chip on it shoulders with an axe to grind.

The overhang of 1955 still resonates among the nationalists. The English (as if they are a monolithic block. Which is no longer the case. But this is how they are seen here) have long moved ahead. Leaving us Quebecers in the dust - again.

We are an young, immature society. Maybe one day we'll reach puberty.


Assassination Attempt on Osama bin Laden goes back as far as 1994

Article of interest - among others - can be found via this link to terrorism expert and journalist J.M. Berger. Well worth the time.



Euro 2008: Italy and France. Let's call it a draw

France has finally exacted revenge* for losing to Italy at the World Cup in 2006. In two meetings, France won and tied (including a 0-0 score on Saturday) the lackluster Italians to gain full control of Group B for Euro 2008 qualifications.

And the French deserve it. They are a class footballing side. The Italians, for their part, are still feeling their way under the direction of coach Roberto Donadoni.

The game was marred from the start by a rather churlish incident as Italian soccer fans jeered the French national anthem.

As a Canadian, I have witnessed how unfortunate this can be as we have booed the American anthem in the past. Specifically, a few times during international hockey games that left Hockey Canada red faced. The Montreal Canadiens have had problems in the past also.

Many claimed it was to oppose America's involvement in Iraq. In othe words, it's a political statement at a sporting event. After all, some will argue, national anthems are actually political and nationalists tools.


Sports fans are not foreign policy experts so best they pipe down. As for anthems used for propaganda, while this may be true from a bygone era, this is no longer the case. Anthems by their nature are political but they have evolved into a habit and it has become common courtesy to respect one's anthem.

The Italians failed on this point and the Italian soccer federation is justifiably not pleased. Neither were star players Massimo Oddo and Alessandro del Piero who have stated they have never heard their anthem booed. Even former Italy coach, and most recently Real Madrid, Fabio Capello was disappointed.

Donadoni added,'We need to say sorry to the French. We have done a bad thing.'

Indeed, two wrongs don't make a right.

However, there's a but here. The French need to own up too. If the French accorded themselves a bunch of "buts" for Zidane, the Italians earned their share here. If they were concerned about what provoked Zidane then it stands to reason people should want to know what provoked Italian fans. Right? Hey, I'm just following the logic the French used to defend Zidane. If they do employ this thinking then they ironically need to shoulder part of the blame.

That the French are not entirely blameless for the reaction by the fans is something del Piero suggested also.

France does not get called out for enough with this sort of stuff. In the past year, it's been nothing short of astounding at how often the French have gone public with disparaging and unsubstantiated remarks about Italy.

Yes, they are Latin rivals and this is bound to happen but it does have the feeling of excessiveness now. Life balances out in the end. If you feel aggrieved on one end, it usually will comes back to you for the good on the other. If you look at the history of a soccer player, I bet he gained as many favorable calls as he lost. The French seem to be focusing on the perceived injustices and are behaving accordingly.

I don't know what the Italians did to earn such scorn besides having the audacity to win on a day they did not have their "A" game.

In fairness, not all the French players have been yapping but the ones who did have gone public. The only reports I could find about Italian players going public is with the odd response to French assertions - and even then it's been limited.

Interestingly, the French and Italian players seemed to harbour no animosity during and after the game as they high-fived one another and exchanged jerseys.

That said, I'm not daft enough to believe that Italian players are perfect angels, but all I can comment on is the remarks made in public.

Here, France has Italy beat, hands down.

Let's call this a draw and move on.

*Since writing this note, France's revenge is complete as they went on to lose to Scotland twice. In doing so, it put Italy in a tight spot in Group B.


What did you do to those boys? Duke lacrosse players seek $30 million

Mike Nifong is going to jail.

No doubt fully deserved.

It could have happened to anybody.

There's plenty of blame to go around. Including Duke University. They left those three boys twist in the wind. Duke caved to public pressure. For shame.

I don't know if Nifong is married. If so, that's one more family he has damaged. But if I'm his wife, I do two things. Stand by him publically and ask him one question privately:

What did you do to those boys?

Le Video

Back to back videos. Lucky you.


The World of Music is Poorer Today

Luciano Pavoratti has past away.

Everytime I hear Ave Maria my soul trembles to its core.

Random Thought

Steve Carell: Understated comic genius.

Just felt like sayi..er, writing this.


From Gun Running to The Lord: Creative Spam hits my email

Here's an example of spam that creeped into my email. Lately, I've had a few and I am each time tempted to hit the reply button with a big "fuck you." But I don't know what the fall out would be if I did do it. So I did the next best thing and exposed these jerk-offs here. Anyone who actually responds to such emails has to get the gulible-meter in their heads examined. Spare parts and jobbers eventually thin out.

Anyway, check this one out. It's a personal favorite.

Warm Greetings!

Forgive my indignation if this message comes to you as a surprise and may offend your personality for contacting you without your prior consent and writing through this channel. (
This is a classic line) I got your contact from a professional database found in internet while searching for a reliable and honest person that will be an anointed steward in a vision very dear to me.

I am Mrs. Isabela Rodrique person from Puerto Rico undergoing medical treatment. I am married to Dr. Castillo Rodrique who was a gun runner supplying arms and ammunition to warring factions in Africa before he died in the year 2002. (
This is supposed to build trust and credibility?)We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days. Since his death I decided not to re-marry or get a child outside my matrimonial home. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of 11.8 Million Pounds Starlings (Eleven Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Pounds) with a Fiduciary company. Presently, this money is still with the Fiduciary Company.(Scooby-Doo! Where are you?)

Recently, my doctor told me that I would not last for the next three months due to cancer problem. Though what disturbs me most is my partial paralysis. Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to an organization or individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein. I want an organization or individual that will use this to fund, women and youth groups, victims of war, environmental protection, charities, orphanages and widows or properties for orphanage homes. It is said that blessed is the hand that giveth. (Aw)

I took this decision because I don't have any child that will inherit this money and as a part of restitution for the atrocities of my husband which I tacitly supported. I don't want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly manner, hence the reason for taking this bold decision.

I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. (
Existentialist with a purpose. Good for her) I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. If you consider yourself adequately equipped morally and spiritually for this mission, please send me a brief memo of how you intend to use the funds. Thank you and God bless.

Yours sincerely,
Mrs. Isabela Rodrique

I'm sold. Where do I sign up?

Iraq Questions: Are you going to leave?

The debate surrounding what to do with American involvement in Iraq is a divisive if not perplexing issue. Yet, the decisions taken will have a direct impact on what needs to be done moving forward.

After all the fierce debating and numerous (and endless writings and ruminations) on the subject what can be discerned that the lines that divide are clear and straightforward.

On one side, there exists the believe and stance that the United States should never have taken on such a mission. It is seen as illegal and illegitimate in the eyes of domestic and international public opinion. It should have been undertaken in consultation with the UN. Ergo, a pull out is the only natural and moral thing to do. Cut your losses and lick your wounds. Whatever happens afterwards is a lesson to be learned.

Those who advocated the dismantling of Iraq failed to execute it properly and time is fast running out on them.

On the counter-assertion, in the name of security, Iraq was necessary when considering the global nature of terrorism. It was the right course of action and that a pull out is an error for geopolitical reasons - miscalculations notwithstanding. This line of thinking tends to have a realpolitik angle to it. In terms of the UN, 9/11 dictated that most international structures and treaties all bets were off . Like WWI shattered the Treaty of Westphalia, 9/11 questioned the world order designed (mostly by the United States) after WWII.

Indeed, as it stands, the people who assert that it was a mistake are claiming they were right all along. However, this is premature. Anyone - on either side - who believed this was going to be short and easy was irresponsible. The day the Americans marched into Baghdad was the day the real war on terror was going to begin. This is going to take a generation or two to fight.

Perhaps the American body politic should have sold this angle better. But they didn't and it's time to move on.

This aside, should these two positions be the only options Americans have to consider? What about what Iraqi's think and feel?

Not enough is being reported about this - other than polls that is. The two sides are so busy pointing fingers and engaging in partisanship that insists on carrying historical political baggage, that they forget one simple premise: America is there.

Simply recommending a pull out is not a solution. The unintended consequences of this action could be as problematic as the one that led the U.S. into it.

So who to listen to? Right now, it seems Al-Queda is banking on a few things and one of them is Americans signaling that they are about to abandon Iraqi's. What if the average Iraqi is watching the Americans closely? If the Americans show a full force of will perhaps this will rally Iraqi's to the right side. On the other hand, if the Americans leave does this not throw Iraqi's into the arms of AQI?

Either way America is in Iraq. Arguing about how they got there is now counter productive to all involved. Practical and intelligent solutions are needed. Not paltry "resolutions" that amount to nothing more than lame political games.


Maybe I should change jobs?

Person: "What do you do for a living?"

The Commentator: "I'm an accountant."

Person: "Wow."

TC: "I'm-a-countin-my-money.

I invented that joke. No, you may not use it.

Crap. Did I just publish it? I'll settle for a moral credit.

What Canadian soccer can learn from hockey

Watching Canada decimate Russia at the hockey summit series should make Canadian soccer fans yearn for a "program of excellence" like the one designed and implemented by Hockey Canada.

Soccer officials should borrow from Hockey Canada.

But before that can happen the stagnant culture that creeps around over at the CSA needs to be eradicated. How this will happen is anyone's guest.

Will and commitment is all that is needed - well, that and a strong development system.

There is talent in Canada. Time to realize this potential.

Repairing America's image starts now?

This quote from Nicholas Sarkozy came via Burkean Canuck:

"With America, he wants the normal relations we’ve always had. But he is capable of candor there, too. When Sarkozy met Condoleezza Rice, she said, ‘What can I do for you?’ And he said, bluntly, ‘Improve your image in the world. It’s difficult when the country that is the most powerful, the most successful—that is, of necessity, the leader of our side—is one of the most unpopular countries in the world. It presents overwhelming problems for you and overwhelming problems for your allies. So do everything you can to improve the way you’re perceived—that’s what you can do for me.’ I think it’s entirely possible; the reservoir of good will has been drained somewhat, but it is far from dry. Look how much the image of France has changed in the United States in eight weeks."

It's hard to pin down Sarkozy. Heck, any French leader for that matter. However, we do know he leans with a conservative mind and does want a rapprochement with the United States.

France is an upper middle-class power. Yet, it is one with enough pride and bark to make things uncomfortable for the U.S. and there's no reason why the U.S. should not take this opportunity to strengthen the ties that bind the two nations.

"Black Jacques" Chirac is gone. So...

Sarkozy does ask the $64 000 (you calculate what this is in Euros), doesn't he in regards to America's negative public relations image? I do concur it can be repaired. America doesn't do enough to combat the many misconceptions that litter the internet about American life and politics. Just a tiny, cohesive and effective push back can do a world of difference.

Only problem is that Americans from within can do as much damage as their own leaders in hurting America's image.


War Museum should stay true to history


Much like nature, history will have the last say.

Mess with it, is to mess with the soul and DNA of a nation, country and people.

Exchanging ideas free of misconceptions can be rewarding.

A childhood friend drove in from North Carolina the other day. A few of the boys from "the hood" got together for the first time in years.

Our conversation was varied. Inevitably it landed on the issue of health given that the subject is in the news these days. One of my friends, never one to take a broad perspective on things, began hammering the American system with scant understanding on how it actually works. It was, I must admit, an embarrassing exhibition of excessive selective gibberish. But hey - we're friends.

He was, of course, attempting to school someone who has lived in the U.S. for the last 20 years and is familiar with both systems. The good man listened patiently to the comment and then proceeded to explain carefully and deliberately how it really works.

While a couple of us grasped the basic tenets, my friend refused to accept this and decreed it was a "stupid" system. He's one of those types who'd sooner take the advice and opinion of a stranger rather than from his own friends.

I looked at him and asked him if he was joking considering the shambles our public system is mired in. Then again, that is a typically Canadian thing to do. Rather than confront our own problems, our insecurities lead us to focus on our neighbours to the south.

Our view of the United States has become so skewed we barely recognize what we're saying anymore. We have taken all the negative aspects and taken them to be the overall truth and reality of a country.

We don't like it when Americans showcase their ignorance about us. So why do we do it too?

The biggest problem with Canadians commenting about the U.S. is that we see it through myopic Canadian lenses. We consistently fail to see or acknowledge that Americans have a different system and mentality from ours.

There was nothing complicated in what my friend from the United States said. There was, on the other hand, something entirely infantile in what the gentleman from Canada was trying to convey.