Cristobal Huet Makes Splash In Debut With Washington

The Capitals beat the New Jersey Devils 4-0. Huet got the shut out - over Martin Brodeur to boot.

Good for Cristobal Huet. I'm of the opinion that he was short changed here - especially by some over at Team 990. They're arguments against him were rather weak, selective and subjective.

Ever notice that sometimes some people never get any credit no matter what they do or how hard they try? Huet was unfairly labeled. It seems anything he did was seen as a "mirage." The stats weren't telling the story, he was a late bloomer etc. Interesting weren't guys like Johnny Bower, Tony Esposito and Dominik Hasek all late bloomers? I'm not suggesting that Huet is in that elite group but you get my point. All are irrelevant in proper context.

For those of you who love an under dog story this is a good one.

Neocons No Longer Wield Power In Washington

That didn't last long now did it? Well, to any observer of American intellectual and power politics, that the neocon doctrines have been pushed aside was evident - notice how Bush has become far more moderate if not conciliatory with the UN and his allies. I myself did not realize how short the stint really was - if what Reason Online is arguing is correct.

After languishing in the halls of American power for a long time the neocon (a collection of thinkers that included disaffected liberals) 15 minutes of fame are up.

Reason Online has this to offer as insights into the shift in American foreign policy in the Middle East.

The flirtations with the interventionist aspects of the neocon doctrine were tried and now they are running back to an earlier method used under Reagan, Bush and Clinton. Of these, only Reagan espoused ideas that were closest to true conservatism.

The question is (as the article closes with) does the key to peace in the Middle-East lie with Israel and Palestine?

I have reservations about this.


William F. Buckley 1925-2008

It's easy to pigeon hole conservative thinkers and group them into one monolithic ideological block. But taking the easy way usually entails being misguided.

Buckley was at the heart of the conservative revival in modern American politics.

For conservatives who felt (and still feel) abandoned and lost within the walls of contemporary Republican politics, Buckley was (and remains) a voice of true conservatism.

Here's how the editors at the Buckley's National Review put it:

"Our revered founder, William F. Buckley Jr., died in his study this morning.

If ever an institution were the lengthened shadow of one man, this publication is his. So we hope it will not be thought immodest for us to say that Buckley has had more of an impact on the political life of this country — and a better one — than some of our presidents. He created modern conservatism as an intellectual and then a political movement. He kept it from drifting into the fever swamps. And he gave it a wit, style, and intelligence that earned the respect and friendship even of his adversaries. (To know Buckley was to be reminded that certain people have a talent for friendship."

Remembering Heathcliff

When I was kid, two felines ruled the comic world: Heathcliff and Garfield.

One was funny and one was not.

To be honest, I didn't find Garfield funny at all. In fact, I still question the humour IQ of people who liked that stupid idiot.

Heathcliff was the original bad ass smart-alec cat. Actually, Fritz the Cat came before HC but he was utterly depraved and before my time so I'll stick to Heathcliff.

Come to think of it, many rebellious cats came before both HC and Fritz. Like Claude Cat created by Chuck Jones, Walt Disney's legendary The Robber Kitten (aka Ambrose the Robber Cat) and Felix the Cat..

Ah, the classics.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Garfield (boy did I loathe Nermal that jerk off) was a knock off. A bum. A vagabond. A hack who managed to bag a film.

As some may recall, the 80s was also a time when Corey Hart battled Bryan Adams (in Canada anyway) and VHS took on Beta.

I stood by Heathcliff, Beta and Adams.

Whatever. Here's hoping for a Heathcliff revival.


Ohio and Texas Claims Truth? Canada Casual Casualty Of American Empty Rhetoric

"We will opt out (of NAFTA)" were the words from a Senator Hilary Clinton scratching and clawing to stay alive. Not to be outdone, Obama continued his protectionist posturing by threatening that he would "renegotiate NAFTA."

Add that Obama also promised to "end the war" and you begin to see an unsettling emerging pattern here: make promises on things you can't possibly make good on.

Well, this is politics. But in the context of NAFTA and the war in Iraq are the Democrats being practical and realistic in what they are promising?

Talking about NAFTA during political campaigns has become the leitmotif for nationalists on both sides of the border. If anything, it is Canadians who feel swindled under NAFTA. - the link takes you to Reason Online.

Both Obama's and Hilary's rhetoric was enough to rightfully raise some eyebrows on the Canadian side. However, Canadian officials were assured from the Obama camp that this is just rhetoric and wasn't meant to be taken seriously. Back to bed Canada. Nothing to see here. And who knows what Mexico thinks of all this.

We'll see.

Since when did political debates become the exclusive breeding ground for - wink, wink - lies?

Did I just ask that question?

Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Leftists and Democrats have been quite vocal calling Bush a liar all these years. How to rationalize this boo-boo? Do voters see this for what it is or are there some among them who truly believe what is being said? Is this a case of politicians being politicians?

Both leading Democrats are not off to a noble start now are they? I mean this in the context of the morally depraved Bush administration. If Hilary and Obama were to "clean up" Washington is this how they intend to do it? Oh, I see. These are just white lies. Harmless stuff. "Let me just say this stuff to get the votes and then you'll get the real me once in power."

Ever watch Lord of the Rings? See what those rings can do to a hobbit?

I like Obama. But he's a politician. He'll do what it takes to survive. They all have to use key phrases and magic words that mislead. It's the nature of the game.

With Ohio and Texas slated to be a tough battleground and Hilary's possible last stand expect the two Democrats to promise the world and nothing- which really means empty promises.

Once we get past Obama's twinkling eyes, we see that his policies are hardly agents of change. Wanting change now merely means literally changing hands and not real ideas.

Many would counter that it's enough for Obama to be able to offer the chance to make change but as it stands his policies are nothing to write home about. Neither are Hilary's for that matter.

I know I'm probably wrong but hey, at least I don't live and survive on votes.

Of Health, Science and My Cholesterol

The human body is one confusing entity.

For years I was a fitness freak. I played sports on a regular basis and maintained a wicked healthy diet. To the point I deprived myself of Fun Dip and espresso. But boy did I know my fruits. I was taking flax seeds and eating special breads back when they were hard to come by.

Despite all my efforts, I had persistent borderline high cholesterol for years. I was confused given I was in excellent shape ( I ran 10km (6.2 miles) in 48 minutes). I was told it was genetic and therefore there was little I could do to lower it. Damn that DNA.

Finally, my doctor suggested a few years back I take Crestor to lower it. I did for one year and it did work with zero side effects.

Boy, that's a lot of 'I's in this post.

Anyway, that was back in 2005. In 2003, I blew out my knee in a soccer match tearing my ACL. Combined with certain changes in my life and the injury, I never quite got back to the health level I was once at.I could not get past the psychological problem of fearing another knee injury. I just could not bear a third injury.

My plan has been to shift and refocus and choose new sports to participate in and that is coming shortly. In the meantime, I went for another round of blood tests.

Guess what?

Everything is fine including my cholesterol.

Go figure. I now drink wine and espresso on a regular basis, pay attention less to what I eat (though I maintain an excellent) and don't exercise like I used to.

Yet, my cholesterol is now normal?

There has been a debate in the medical community that centered around the fact that doctors really don't know for certain what causes cholesterol and if it indeed leads to heart disease.

My personal experience seems to confirm we don't know indeed.

Already, I was suspicious of all these trendy diets like Atkins that hit society. It was comical to see all these people who never went for a walk panic and jump on all these questionable diets.

It seems the list of things to eat and not eat were growing everyday. Drink coffee, don't drink coffee. Stay away from wine, drink one glass. Eat chocolate, don't eat it. Cinnamon can help cholesterol, eggs are not good for cholesterol and so on.

We...just...don't know. Sometimes anyway.

The trick is to keep things in darn moderation. Don't eat ice cream every day. Or if you do, make sure you're active or at the very least maintain a proper diet to compliment it. Then again, you can do nothing but drink espresso, eat gelato, smoke and still out live a health fanatic or herbalist. I remember years ago a gentleman I knew who was in exquisite shape. He ran marathons and always had an apple in his hands (much like me). He died suddenly of a heart attack.

The truth is that we should ignore what is reported in the media (notice words and phrases they use like "may cause" and "a new study suggests" to report a new study) and treat with suspicion what we read or see on television about what constitutes a healthy diet.

What we've done is allow strong suspicions or perceptions pass for hard science.

Always best to remember one thing:

Cui bono?

The Federal Budget

I've always maintained Finance Ministers have a second career waiting for them once the pension cheques start to flow in and they are looking to keep themselves busy. What might that be? Magic. They would make great magicians.

Creative finance ministering is an art form onto itself.

Here's a summary and interpretation of the 2008 Federal Budget as the Conference Board of Canada sees it.


Grace In The Face Of Criticism Is A Dead Art

I've been observing the American Idol contestants dealing with Simon Cowell's various criticisms. I'm thoroughly disappointed with how they have been handling it.

Attitude and having thin-skin is not a good or noble combination. Talking back while letting emotions get in the way is not a sign of maturity, rebellion or intelligence. It's just plain rude.

For this generation it's all a matter of personal opinion and screw everyone or everything else.

The baby-boomers started the whole question authority thing and this generation is finishing it...with poor results.

Parmesan Is Not Parmigiano-Reggiano

I was at the supermarket today and spotted Kraft's Four Cheese Italiano. As some people may already know, the four cheeses that make up this product are Parmesan, Mozzarella, Emmental and Provolone.

Now, I'm not the swiftest cheesehead around but last I checked Emmental is a cheese from Switzerland. Not Italy.

So it's really Kraft's Three Italian Cheeses and One Swiss Cheese.

I have no idea what the origin of the generic term Parmesan is. But it is a lower grade derivative of Parmigiano Reggiano. People who buy Parmesan think they are buying authentic Parmigiano. It's not. Parmigiano is produced in Northern Italy in the regions of Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy.

For its part, Parmesan made in North America do not regulate the quality of ingredients that go into it.

If you like cheese (and I'm not the biggest fan) here's an experiment. Go buy a small block of Parmigiano (which is pretty expensive) and then purchase a "Parmesan" (Pamesello in Europe excluding Italy) product from Kraft or some other company. Taste and compare. You will notice an immediate difference.

I'll let you guess which is the better one.

Poor Kevin James

Andy Kim was gracious enough to send me this humourous piece of satire from the Jim Galaxy titled 'Kevin James Rejected For Wolf Role In Jeep Liberty Ad.'

Just one of Kim's many top 40 hits, 'Rock Me Gently' sure has aged well.


Can You Find Me A Doc?

As I listened intently to a few friends discuss the American health system it was interesting to detect the passion evoked regarding the issues that face our great neighbour to the south.

I only wish we'd get as worked up about our own system that faces its own problems. Are we assuming our system is naturally a better one and thus does not require a thoughtful discussion?

Of course, this would be foolish on our part.

I took it upon myself to shift the tone and direction of the conversation away from the U.S. and towards Canada.

I put on my Corporal Canada Cape and hammered out a thought.

"Do you guys know that 5 million Canadians (or 16% of the total population) are without a family doctor? Does this not strike you as a problem given you can't visit a specialist without a GP's note?"

"Really? I don't have a family doctor."

That was one guy in six - 16% of the group. In fact, I think it would be higher since not everyone had a chance to declare if they had one or not.

Note: All swear words have been dropped in the interest of maintaining a clean and pseudo-intellectual blog post.

To conclude, GP's are the point guards in the medical system. Without one you can't see someone to fix whatever ails you.


Sebia and Kosovo Independence

Here's a blog post about Kosovo independence from a historian perspective over at History Mike.

Canada's Answer To Bonnie and Clyde

Monica Proietti was an infamous bank robber from Montreal. Nicknamed Machine Gun Molly (or Monica La Mitraille in French) Proietti was born into a life of poverty and violence and grew up in the east-end of the city. On her last heist, she was gunned by police in 1967 after a high-speed car chase. She was 27.

What Quebec Needs...

...Is something like The Tyee in British Columbia. A legitimate independent newspaper. Not a smart ass underground one but one in which it can attract talented journalists. As it stands, the only places to be heard in Quebec are with traditional print media papers (and only one in English). It's either that or alternative papers.

Think of the juicy stories rarely reported or covered you can pull up in Quebec. It's endless.

This province is simply not scrutinized enough. I truly believe people are starving for something different here. A bilingual independent online newspaper is a great place to start.

If this idea takes off I call Chief Vice-Commander of Find Something To Do Department. All I ask is for a short siesta for my bubble baths. You know, to keep a healthy glow.

Erode Freedoms By Slow Water Torture

Earlier I mentioned about how the Liberal Party of Quebec wants to increase the role of the OLF in Quebec. Essentially they want to encroach on our civil liberties. In this post, I point to section 3.9 of the party's resolutions: that Quebec be given a veto on decisions made by the CRTC.

As it stands, the secretive, unelected and unaccountable CRTC already determines what Canadians watch now we want to add another layer of regulation on top of this. Pushed to its logical end, it can happen where Quebec can say no to a particular show or channel in the interest of "protecting its culture."

In other words, no HBO for you!

Canada never ceases to amaze.


#23: Immortalized

The Montreal Canadiens will honour another one of its greats tonight. What more can one say of Bob Gainey?

Nothing. Pure greatness and class. The player whom the Soviets once called the most complete hockey player they ever saw.

How Tastes Shift Over Time

I don't know what this means but I'm beginning to like some Anne Murray songs.


Fiction: Diner of Insomnia

I pathetically dabble in fiction. The Warehouse is a place to contain my alter ego.


What Is The Stopping Point For Devolution?

Parti Quebecois spokesperson Daniel Turp sees Kosovo as a model or example for Quebec.

Seems like anybody would tickle Quebec's fancy no matter how fanciful relative to Quebec's position.

First, we are treated to Mario Dumont the galloping politco-man observing how Catalonia's autonomy functions and now this.

What they don't seem to grasp that if Canada can be devolved into whatever structure Quebec wants, so too can Quebec. The city of Montreal has no interest in Quebec's ridiculous plans. The fact that there is already talk of seceding from Quebec should send flares up to the wannabe revolutionaries up in Quebec City.

Canada is divisible but Quebec isn't?

Cuba: A Personal Perspective

As the news of Fidel Castro stepping aside poured in, it reminded me of a trip I took to Cuba 13 years ago.

It was going to be all sun and games as far as I was concerned. But Cuba turned out to be a little more than that.

Too often we hear about academic and political perspectives that at times could be intellectually polarizing.

Rather than attempt to offer yet another intellectual opinion, I would like to share my personal experience with Cuba.

I visited Cuba in 1995. It’s not until one stops and thinks does one realize they are in a communist country.

A country filled with beautiful beaches and genuinely engaging people. However, I could not stop but observe that behind the infectious smiles there was sorrow.

Most people stopped at the smiles and didn’t bother to think beyond this. Naturally, they concluded all is grand in Cuba.

Not me. I wanted to see more.

After a few days of hanging around the hotel overrun with tourists, I befriended a tall, handsome, lanky hotel worker. I found out that he had earned an engineering degree in Russia. Yet, he was handing out towels to tourists for a few bucks a month.

Something was not right with this picture.

One day, after insanely shooting hoops in 90 degree weather, I asked him to take me to Havana. He told me he could not. I naively teased him to take me. He looked around and politely refused.

That left an impression on me.

Most of the people who visit Cuba could care a rat's bum about the plight of its people. They were there, as far as they were concerned, to buy cigars, enjoy the breathtaking beaches, party and if they were lucky, meet someone for an amourous encounter.

Besides, it wasn’t their place to pass judgment. Who could blame them?

One day, I rented and hopped on a motorped and headed for a nearby town. I had grown tired of the fabricated environment around me.

It’s hard to meet Cubans in Cuba. It’s tough since they are forbidden to fraternize in any way – like walk on beaches - with tourists.

This struck me as plain wrong.

The chain on my bike got jammed along the way. No sooner than I had a chance to assess the problem a young kid jumped out of nowhere and fixed it. Just as quickly he was gone and standing off on the side of the road.

He then waved to me laughing, "Go, go!"

Off I went.

As I rode along I saw abject poverty as I have come to understand it. It’s easy to dismiss Cubans as destitute but if they were depressed they had a funny way of depicting it.

I witnessed pharmacies with little medicine. When I visited a bank I could feel the eyes of several spies observing me. Like the hotel worker I met, I spoke to educated people without jobs.

This is what I saw and observed with my own two eyes. Can looks deceive in the case of Cuba?

Was it a mirage? Was there something I was missing?

Following the trip, I returned to Canada wondering if Fidel Castro had indeed pulled off the greatest mirage of our times. He certainly fooled Western leftists – who curiously remained silent on Cuba’s human rights record. Maybe Cuba had some positives, but it was far from a revolutionary project to which all nations could aspire to.

I also wondered about Canada’s relationship with the tiny island blessed with brilliant baseball players, boxers and musicians. I'm not sure what to make of Canada's long standing decision to remain friendly with a dictator. Was it progressive or merely predicated on maintaining economic ties? Sometimes it just came off as plain confusing.

Sure, we sent food, old DeSoto cars and city buses that still had “Pie IX” (a major boulevard in Montreal) splashed on the windshield, medicine and other stuff. But as a whole what have we done of any concrete value besides build a few profitable hotels? Specifically, was our “progressive” stance beneficial to the Cuban people?

If we have, I just didn’t see it in revolutionary Cuba.

At the end of the day, Fidel Castro was a dark cloud that covered a spirited society he could not break. Now this cloud has a chance to give way to clear skies.

I don’t know what the future holds for Cuba. Hopefully the people will finally have a say in what direction the country heads. Personally, I hope the Buena Vista Social Club will reopen one day to help signal and usher in a Cuban Renaissance.

Indeed, Cuba deserves nothing less.


What To Do?

We just heard that a couple close to our friends were expecting a child. Five months into the pregnancy they discovered that the baby has Down Syndrome.

They are considering an abortion.


Fidel Castro Steps Aside

Ooo nelly. Castro has "stepped aside."

Well, in his mind he can always sing "I did it my way." The United States never managed to topple him. Rather he will ride in the Cuban sun on his terms.

What now for this gem of an island? More of the same for Cuba? Some think so but there have been some quiet changes on the economic front. As for what this means for American policies in the region it seems unlikely any changes will come with the present administration.

North American relations with Cuba has been quite interesting. While Americans have not been permitted to visit the country and have had a contentious political relationship with Cuba, Canadians have employed a softer stance and made it a popular vacation spot.

I'm not sure what to make of Canada's long standing decision to remain friendly with a totalitarian regime known for its poor human rights record. The idea of befriending Cuba is progressive, if not, noble. But I fear we have not exerted enough pressure on Cuba for its blatant disregard for freedom and human rights.

In this way, I suppose there's a political and cultural component. On one end, Canadian leaders felt it was pointless to make him a pariah. It allowed for the two countries to trade stories about how the U.S. can be a little over bearing at times.

Politically, we did little for the people of Cuba in terms of freeing them from a thug. If we exerted any covert diplomatic pressure it was limited. Sure, we sent food, old discarded DeSoto's and city buses, medicine and other stuff but as a whole what have we - along with Europe - done of any concrete value besides build a few profitable hotels?

Indeed, sometimes I wonder if our relationship is predicated more on economic interests (though not terribly profitable) and less on principled ones.

At the end of the day, only Castro must account for the conditions Cuba finds itself in.

Hopefully the Cuban people will now decide their future. Not some violent dictator who managed to swindle Western leftist intellectuals.


Yet More On The OLF

I wrote about the OLF at Blogcritics. I figure why not expose them to an international audience. You can read it here.

What I've noticed is that people are past getting angry over the OLF. Now it's plain entertaining. Fun for us and sad for them I suppose.

One comment elicited this response from Adam Enright. It was so funny I posted it here as well:

The Emergency Meeting of the L'Office Québécois de la Langue Française

At the last emergency meeting of L'Office Québécois de la Langue Française to discuss the latest threat to their culture, all the members were fired up to get there early.

After arriving in the morning in their Japanese cars, they shared a breakfast of Belgian waffles, Spanish omelettes, Mexican cornbread and good old Tim Horton's coffee. While eating, someone admired Présidente-Directrice Générale Madame France Boucher's outfit, including new Italian shoes and her nice new Hong Kong-made purse, and everyone laughed when she said she bought the purse at Walmart. . . and admitted she got her skirt while on vacation in Florida!

They chatted about Amy Winehouse's performance at the Grammys and Monsieur Guy Dumas mentioned that last night he went to see the new "Rambo" move, version française of course, at the American-owned AMC Theatre downtown . . . after eating at Boston Pizza. He said had not slept well because his teenager kept playing her Jay-Z and Kanye West CD's in her bedroom too loud.

With breakfast done they moved to their new boardroom decked out in Ikea furniture and a Honduras Mahogany boardroom table to start their emergency meeting. Madame Marie Gendron fired up the Sony projector and her Toshiba Laptop to present a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation on how a handful of English signs at McKibbin's Irish Pub were destroying the French culture.

Here's Another Take On The OLF

Felt like writing another cut on the subject. Sue me.

Recently, McKibbin’s Irish Pub made the headlines thanks to an uninvited guest from L’Office de la langue Francaise. If I were McKibbin’s I would have offered some Kilkenny on the house as a form of advertisement. Why not? It’s free publicity right?

For years we’ve watched with comical sneers the OLF harass businesses with rulers and other classroom weapons of mass annoyance.

This episode is no different.

Following the incidence, it’s not hard to guess what might have been said at the dinner table among us allophones (also affectionately known as “les autres”). Per exemple, “Are they for real?” “Is this 2008?” “They’re so silly” and “No Murphy’s for you!”

Allophones. And I thought we were passed racial labelling. Aw shucks.

Moving along, please allow me to be serious for an abbreviated moment amidst the absurdity.

From my perspective, as the world evolves into whatever it is morphing into, one thing has become apparent: knowledge is paramount.

As such, picture your skills like a balance sheet. In order to succeed today you need to build your asset base and reduce personal liabilities. Not that I’m suggesting your life is all about debits and credits but you get the picture.

Is the OLF adding to the asset base of citizens? What are the unintended consequences of their actions?

We shouldn’t view language as the sole component of culture. Nor is it a means to a political or cultural end.

We should perceive it as an asset that leads to knowledge for its own sake. Why would you prevent Quebecers from achieving this?

Even if nationalists do not accept this line of thinking there’s another aspect the antics of the OLF will never be able to dance around: The notion of civil liberties.

This is not an attack on Quebec culture. Rather its premise rests on one simple foundation: freedom and liberty. Pure et simple.

A culture can’t hide behind the law forever right? At some point, it needs to stand up and fend for itself. It seems to me the OLF would be better off teaching people the benefits of learning French by the free force of its magnificent legacy. You don’t get that by badgering people. That’s just bad karma.

See that outside your window? It’s an evolving world outside and remaining anchored in political language issues suited for the 1840s and 1970s will only serve Quebec a plate of bad poutine – in its face. Pu bon.

It need not be this way.

Our leaders need to take the bull by the linguistic horns and accept the reality of our times.

Sadly, we won’t be getting this from the one party you wild expect to this regarding this issue. I say one, because the Parti Quebecois are not a party that defends the interests of all Quebecers. They can scream until they’re blue in the face that they do care but when push comes to shove...

As for Action Dumont, the rising party, they could have been interesting but Dumont is letting his nationalist ambitions get the better of him. Recently, he was reported to be lost (figuratively) in Catalonia.

That leaves the Liberal Party of Quebec. Yeesh.

I recently read the party’s resolutions and was disappointed with large parts of its content.

I will only focus on the sections that deal with the OLF.

Section 3.7.2 of the resolutions calls for an increased role of the Office Quebecois de la Langue Francaise.

Section adds that the OLF should regularly visit a great number of businesses while advocating a significant increase in the fines given to businesses that do not comply with the law after a warning.

Nice. So now what? Hurley’s Pub is next?

Quebec considers eternal diligence as necessary in defending and protecting its culture and language. No one disputes this but there has to be a better way. Allowing nationalism to trump freedom of the individual should no longer be acceptable.

No matter how you cut it, whether we are talking about the OLF or large parts of the PLQ’s resolutions, it all adds up to one thing: Whither the individual in Quebec - in any language.


Can Having Little Knowledge Be A Good Thing?

Once again, Contratimes comes in with an interesting article about knowledge in America - or lack thereof.

I'll let Contratimes explain.


Mr. Rogers: His Light Still Shines

As Paris Hilton and her ilk walk around it's good to know people with substance do exist. As Congress wastes its time with Clemens and drugs in professional baseball know that there are people who face life straight up.

Oh the pureness.

Shivers and tears this should bring to all.

Barak's Economic Solutions: Recipe For Failure?

And what does Barak Obama intend to do with the economy? Here's Larry Kudlow's take.

They don't sound all that imaginative or impressive.


Needs A Little More Salt

A certain rock star made an astute point to me recently (one I was dancing around myself) about Hilary: Just because you were in the kitchen with the chef doesn't mean you know how to cook. In fact, it doesn't necessarily make you a sous chef.

Is The OLF Counterproductive?

I love Quebec (parts of it anyway) but its politics stinks. Above all, I absolutely loathe the OLF. Not on any political or cultural grounds but strictly from a perspective of civil liberties.

Indeed, it never ceases to amaze me how my Francophone buddies are unaware of the OLF and its antics. When they see or read about it with their own eyes they are thoroughly shocked.

The Office of la langue Francaise (language police) have struck again. This time the culprit is McKibbin's Irish Pub in downtown Montreal.

Mon dieu! Sacre bleu et tabernak!

I can't even begin to explain the nuanced existence of this parochial organization that preys on the insecure elements of nationalist Quebec rendering it quasi-paranoid.

To them, if Quebecers are not diligent the French language will be eradicated from the face of North America. They are not entirely wrong but is the solution is to hound, harass and infringe upon civil liberties?

To any moderate mind the answer is no.

For those of you who hope that the geniuses in the Liberal Party will swing in and jolt this place a little think twice: resolutions disclosed to the public calls for increased funding to OLF and aim to increase fines for businesses who "break" the law. More on this on another post.

Being visited by the OLF leaves such an impression that several people have intimated to never to set up business in Quebec - ever. Who wants to put up with that?

What makes all this the more deplorable is that Quebec politicians, intellectual and nationalists think this is all normal and democratic.

On the surface we have a democracy but when you give power to an organization like L'Office the power to give fines to productive members in a society you deserve neither democracy nor do you understand its true essence.

To walk into an Irish pub as the OLF inspector did and complain that there is too much English spoken within its walls is not democracy at work. While the main crux of the complaint was uni-lingual menus (which the pub should have known better) and "too much" English among the staff (can you say "long slippery road?") she also ordered that they take down signs imported from Ireland! Where do we draw the line?

All this adds up to is misguided cultural fascism. Nothing more and nothing less.

When will the day come where a true leader will stand up for all Quebecers? What I mean by "all" is every single darn person who lives and pays their taxes in good faith here.

The OLF thinks it's protecting the French language?

Is it really? Think about this real hard.

If you want to support McKibbin's the pub plans to put up a website www.byebyeolf.com.

Let the true will of Quebecers stand up and do what's right. Let us live in linguistic and cultural peace once and for all. Marginalize the twirps who do nothing to enhance Quebec culture and everything to demean it.

Dr. Petr Skrabanek: Lonesome Voice of Scientific and Medical Reason?

Here's a text called "False Premises, False Promises" which covers the selective works of Dr. Petr Skrabanek.

There are certain things that must never be questioned since science "backs it up." Even though science, as far as I understand it, is not necessarily a finite discipline. Global Warming, of course, is one of those issues that has people and scientists divided.

That being said, there's a huge difference between strong suspicions or opinions and science. The problem is that we are legislating all sorts of laws that in the end add up to nothing more than moral based well-intentionism. Ever notice how the person who whines or bitches the most gets their way while the rest of us nod our heads in disbelief saying, "I can't believe the boss fell for that!"

Dr. Skrabanek seems to come as close to being an iconoclast (a medical one anyway) as they come. Maybe. I think Galileo and Bacon would have loved him.

The link is about 237 pages but it's a pretty quick read spread over a few days. Well worth it. For women who read this blog (and I know there are many grrrooowwwl) the section about breast cancer may be of significant interest. A definite eye opener.

I've always felt that not only is science under attack but the art of history as well.

All I'm going to say is (and I think this is part of the moral scientific point here): enjoy that espresso guilt free. Just don't drink 8 of them in a row.


Alien Politics

For the more "out there" among us Exopolitics might be your thing.

May as well, sometimes I wonder if politicians are indeed aliens sent to destroy us from within.

Vanity Sports Have Arrived

Interesting article at Endless Cycling considering the fall of the working class cyclist. Like soccer, sports fanatic businessmen are gobbling up their favorite teams to own. Some take it a step further and actually want to participate.

Just like we're seeing the collision between celebrity stars actively entering the realm of politics are we witnessing nouveau-mill-billionaires crossing into sports culture? The new breed of player-owner? How long before one of those soccer owners decides he is good enough to play on a pro, for example, soccer team?

They call it Vanity Press in the publishing profession. What shall we call owners who want to be athletes? Vanity Sports?


Leaving Anonymous Messages Everywhere?

If you think you think this is possible read the link that follows. It's almost impossible to be anonymous in this world. If you don't want to be tracked down or found go live in a forest.

Which brings me to to the gentleman pictured on the right. Does Dale Gribble know something the rest of us don't. Come to think of it, in light of this article, are you more like Hank Hill or Dale Gribble?

Introducing Science Applications International Corporation

And Vanity Fair tells us all about the SAIC among other wild stuff.

Is Facebook Indirectly Linked to the CIA?

Personally, I don't get social networking. Mind you, I'm not that sociable in general so...

Yes, I did join MySpace and Facebook. MySpace because a friend invited me to support her "space." However, I never took it farther than that. Never invited anyone but I was stalked by some guy named Tom. Soon, I saw no point to it and jumped off. MySpace I sorta get. It works for many and legitimate artists who do use it as a tool to network and expose their ideas.

Facebook I don't get at all. It combines all our worst vices regarding gossip and voyeurism into one giant wasted rest area. It has zero social value. Again, a friend invited me and rather than insult him by declining I joined. Soon, I was getting tracked down by many people. I even ended up on a thread where editors and writers were present. Great I thought to myself. Maybe I could meet a few. Fat chance. These people had little interest in outsiders. Again, what was the point in my hanging around? Out I went.

Anyway, some friends of mine who are internet marketers and web designers explained to me the massive logistics and cash needed to create social sites like MySpace and Facebook - not to mention luck. It either catches or it doesn't. So much is involved that one of them remarked aloofly, "I wouldn't be surprised if the CIA is behind all this in some way. There isn't a better way to keep tabs on your population than social networking sites."

Then I found this and this. The first goes back to 2005 (and the site doesn't seem to update anymore) but is an interesting read nonetheless. The second is from a site called Brainsturbator. I enjoyed it so much that I added it on my Blinks in the square found in the sidebar. Unfortunately, I could not leave him a note about how I wanted to marry his blog since you have to be registered to leave comments.


Max Roach - RIP

The day he passed on way, way back in August in 2007 I meant to honour him here but for some reason it slipped through the cracks.

Better late than never for one of the great jazz drummers of the 20th century.

Did Aliens Visit Ancient Egypt?

If so, where are the darn documents declaring this? One would think they had the ability to write and leave high quality paper no? And why do we assume they were good in math? What if they were good in, I don't know, home economics? Why haven't they solved global warming since we all know they are, you know, still around? Did they give Al Gore all the evidence he needed to make that movie about footprints? Were/are aliens Jewish? Why did they focus on Hollywood? Can they see ghosts? 'Cuz I gotta tell ya, I think my house is haunted.

I digress.

Here's a teaser from Skeptical Inquire magazine investigating this story:

"A similar argument can be made about the claim that the pyramid could not have been built by the Egyptians because if you divide the height by half of the perimeter of the base, you get pi (3.14 . . .). If you check this claim against the actual numbers, you again find that this is true to an accuracy of one part in 1000. So while the Egyptians obviously picked the pyramids’ proportions so that the height was the radius of a circle whose circumference was equal to the circumference of the base of the pyramid, the accuracy was much poorer than we could achieve today. Can you really believe that the members of an advanced race would flunk freshman surveying?

The quality of the stone work can be used to come to the same conclusion. The furnished surfaces of the stone, where needed, were level to within about one fiftieth of an inch. For reference, this is about half the thickness of a dime. A skilled mason using the type of stone-cutting tools found in old Egyptian quarries could, with care, achieve this sort of accuracy. But a spaceman using a laser cutting tool (as has been imagined by some pyramid buffs) would do a couple of orders of magnitude better.

So the workmanship of the pyramid is of a quality that would be just within the reach of what we know the Egyptians of the period could do but is very poor for anyone who had access to modern technology. And if this is true, the only refuge left for the ancient-astronaut notion lies in the claim that the Egyptians simply couldn’t have moved all that stone and put it into place in the pyramid."

Custom Signs, Real Estate, Magnetic, Yard Signs


Jonathan de Guzman is no Judas

Jon de Guzman is a rare bird: a Canadian soccer phenom. Lately, Canada has produced some very good players including his brother Julian, the awesome Dwayne de Rosario who plays for Houston in the MLS and Owen Hargreaves.

Of the four names two play for Canada and one of them isn't Jon.

You see, Jon de Guzman has been playing in the Netherlands since he was spotted by Feyenoord when he was 12. In the process he became a Dutch citizen and was subsequently trained in the famous "total football" tradition. As opposed to wallowing in whatever coaching "tactics" Team Canada had set up.

So when the time came to choose who he would play for - Canada or the Netherlands - de Guzman opted for the latter.

It's the right decision.

The last time Canada found itself in similar circumstances was with Owen Hargreaves. Hargreaves may have been born with a British passport but he did actually play in Canada. He could have easily been playing for Canada. Except for one thing: the CSA was sleeping at the switch and never realized what they had. Actually, they pretty much snubbed him. Next thing you know, he's playing for mighty Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga and later wearing the three lions of England. All of a sudden he was good enough for Canada? Na-ah.

If you recall, that caused quite a ridiculous uproar among clueless nationalists who considered him a traitor. It's not okay for Lennox Lewis, Brett Hull or Greg Rusedski to leave but it's quite alright for athletes from other countries to come here and represent us? Lord, how many of our star track athletes are from abroad? We seem to like it when Donovan Bailey (who was not born in Canada) wins us a medal, right?

I can see why some soccer fans are upset. Ironically, despite all the stupidity stemming from the CSA, Canada actually is developing some solid players in spite of all the problems. With de Guzman, Canada finally had a shot at fielding its finest midfield's ever. Alas, it was not to be.

Still, how can we blame de Guzman for wearing the orange colours of the Netherlands? Indeed, one of the great footballing nations in the world.

The cold hard fact is that the soccer landscape in Canada is way too unstable for quality players to commit to.

Will this be the moment that finally galvanizes the Canadian soccer community to finally evolve and change? Will the CSA (the same people who oddly promoted Dale Mitchell to coach the senior men's team after spectacularly crashing out of the U-20s) get out of the business of development? Will they become more transparent?

So many questions and complex issues that I'm not holding my breath.

Expect more de Guzman's to split before it gets better.


I Wonder If They Got My Email...

Do you get insulted when someone doesn't return your phone call? If not insulted, at least perplexed by the lack of response?

Of course, it's no use to get upset. Usually, there is a legitimate or acceptable reason (excuse to some) for someone not getting back to you. There are so many reasons why someone may not do so. They include: they didn't get the message, they forgot, they meant to but couldn't find the time etc. Within these, it's best not to be too naive either.

It's impossible to know what kind of day someone is having. That's why I take an explanation at face value - especially if they come from a trusted source. Even if there's a white lie in it I'm not arrogant enough to take it personally and start a fight over it. Besides, what you don't know can't hurt you. I know with my buddies we are pretty straightforward: I didn't feel like it, I was tired and too busy with the kids are the more common ones. It's all good to us since we've known each other for over 28 years.

Ok, that was the telephone. What about email? Email has become an important source of communication. Does it require the same kind of politesse?

I think it does. Late emails shouldn't be an issue. Not everyone gets to their emails on a regular basis and if they are already the time to procrastinate returning calls, well, good luck.

Personal phone calls and emails deserve a certain amount of leeway.

What about companies?

Here, I am less forgiving. Many companies claim to provide optimum service. Many of those come up short. There is a difference between getting lucky on a customer service representative who happens to approach their jobs in a professional manner and a company that exudes a culture of service excellence from top to bottom.

How do people feel not getting an email response? Does it indeed reflect on the service culture of a company or the character of a person?

What the heck...

A Star Wars parody from Robot Chicken:


John Mellencamp in Montreal: Music Review

Formerly and affectionately (I'm guessing on the affectionately part) known as John Cougar and then John Cougar Mellencamp, the conveyor of Americana roots and stories was in Montreal on February 1st. You can read my take on the event over at Blogcritics and their excellent music review section.

Incidentally, if you're a writer and would like a wider audience for your writing give them a shot. You have to join of course. Follow the BC button on the sidebar of this site.


Mario Dumont autonomously taking in the sites and sounds of Spain

Dumont: "So. What's the secret of your success, Catalonia people?"

Catalonian official: "Ah, ancient Chinese secret!"

ADQ leader Mario Dumont visited Catalonia to "observe" how autonomy works for this region in Spain. Here's an article in Euro-Canada.info regarding the Quebec fascination with Catalonia.

Taking in the sites and sounds of Spain is always swell I suppose. Barcelona is world class. World class.

Good for him. But I hope he realized something quickly. Notably, that Spain ain't Canada. On the surface there are similarities but Spanish political culture is different from Canada's.

Alas, these are tiny irritants and details to be ignored by Quebec nationalists. God bless a free Quebec - with a Canadian passport.

Above all, Quebec has more autonomy and power, ironically, than Catalonia could ever hope to achieve.

They speak of "will" and "freedom." There is no freedom of choice here. It's freedom so long as it does not run contrary to the prevailing attitudes and laws of nationalists.

Quebec's economy is simply not deep enough to sustain itself at this time.

There is one glitch in all this though: Catalonia actually has money.


Pickin' and choosin' who and when we dis?

It seems like George W. Bush's legacy will forever be (negatively) attached to Iraq.

Fair enough.

Yet, when remembering John F. Kennedy often omitted was the fact the he led the nation into Vietnam. In the process, somehow Vietnam has become Nixon's war.


Canada should be honest about its role in Afghanistan

Here's an interesting if not alternate article by Eric Margolis on the Manley Panel's report regarding Canada's mission in Afghanistan.

What I find intriguing moving forward is this: If Harper (who is perceived to be a Bush follower) manages to get reelected and if the Democrats come into power in the U.S. later this year what the nature of Canadian-American relations will be like.

Machiavelli once said something to the effect that if you don't go to war with a sound purpose and with ruthlessness you are bound to fail. Just a historical FYI.

Algeria World Power?

In the early 1970s, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro once said "Algeria was a great power in the making".

Instead, it became known as an international pariah under Khadafi. The country is so horrifically backwards that physics can't even define it.

Sokay, Fidel. Pundits miss their mark all the time - and they earn a nice living for doing it.

Guy Lafleur to appear in court

What a sad story for a hockey player who has become part legend, part myth in Montreal.

It is reported that Lafleur's troubled son has Tourette's Syndrome. I hope he's been getting help for this.

My nephew has Tourette's. I know what it's all about. It's not easy that's for sure.