Link Of Interest: Health Care

I didn't read this but reports on universal health care around the world are always welcome. This is from Frontline.

Where's Elton?

Elton in the bathtub: "I am Levon, I am Levon..."

I happened to catch the last few minutes of American Idol tonight. It was down to Syesha and Brooke. One is black and one is white and blonde. Both are attractive.

Remember when Elton charged that Americans were "racist" after they sent Jennifer Hudson packing? The same people (Americans) went out and made her a star after the exposure of being on AI. Life is funny that way.

Brooke was sent home tonight: the white chick. The "All-American" girl was passed over for the African-American.

I suppose silence fills the air at Captain Fantastic's home tonight.

Link Of Interest: Obama Weak On Crime And Terrorism?

What's the point of gutter politics? Why revive this 'Willie Horton' stuff to attack Senator Obama. Factcheck.org explores the latest lame ad.

Together now: truth is an unfortunate casualty in politics sometimes.

Those Four Foul Words

"What's the big deal?"

Please. Never use this phrase in an intellectual debate. It suggests you haven't thought things through.


A Piece Of Canadiana: The Big Muddy. Canada's Badlands

Slowly peace came to the valley. The Mounties moved away

No more outlaws in the Big Muddy. At least that is what they say.

Big Muddy Country by Michael Burgess

The Big Muddy: Just the name is enough to conjure up some harsh and wild images. A place Butch Cassidy called the "Devil's Playground."

From Canadian Cowboy Country:

"Located straight south of Regina, the Big Muddy Valley is truly one of the more spectacular regions of the province. Just north of the Medicine Line (U.S. border) the towns of Big Beaver and Minton are the outposts of this region. Thousands of years of rich First Nations history is still widely evident in the massive and mysterious boulder effigies scattered across the vast landscape. No one can say for sure which peoples made the effigies. Some human or animal figures tell of personal or tribal tragedies. Some mark the resting place of important tribal members. Some mark battles. Some are unexplainable. The combination of topography and ranchers saved the sites; the same combination protects them still."

An excerpt from Aust's General Store in Big Muddy: "The Big Muddy is full of canyons and gulches that provided good concealment and ideal places for headquarters of gangs of horse thieves, cattle rustlers, and outlaws. Many local ranchers had to turn an eye to incidents that happened on their land so they could stay in business. There were two major gangs operating in the area, The Henry Yeuch (alias Dutch Henry) and the Nelson Jones (alias Sam Kelly) gang. Cassidy and other members of the Wild Bunch were amazingly successful in eluding the law. One key to their success was the friendships they cultivated with local ranchers that were willing to pasture their horses, give or sell them supplies, keep quiet when lawmen sought information."

And from Virtual Saskatchewan: "One of the most notorious places in North America at the turn of the 20th Century was northern Montana. In Valley County, where the wave of economic expansion into the American Midwest came crashing into the badlands, rustlers and robbers enjoyed a tempting combination of prime pickings and good hideouts. And if things got too hot in Montana, it was a short ride to safe haven on the north side of 'the line' in Canada. Safe haven, that is, if the pursuers were U.S. lawmen. . ."

Bruce Sprinsgteen and the E Street Band Return: Under The Carnival Sounds Of Loss and Revival

Before they returned to the stage, I imagined and envisioned Springsteen paying homage to his friend Federici by bringing his organ on stage. It seemed only fitting.

Springsteen did just that.

Here are some notes about his return over at his website by correspondents from Backstreets.com. On of my favorite moments is the playing of 'Backstreets' while a somber and lonely spotlight shone on the organ. Another is Professor Roy Bittan playing the accordion (as Federici used) on the ageless 'Sandy'.


Two excerpts from Springsteen's poignant eulogy to Danny "Phantom" Federici:

"In the studio, if I wanted to loosen up the track we were recording, I'd put Danny on it and not tell him what to play. I'd just set him loose. He brought with him the sound of the carnival, the amusements, the boardwalk, the beach, the geography of our youth and the heart and soul of the birthplace of the E Street Band."

So in effect, Federici helped to invent the New Jersey sound.

"So today, making another one of his mysterious exits, we say farewell to Danny, "Phantom" Dan, Federici. Father, husband, my brother, my friend, my mystery, my thorn, my rose, my keyboard player, my miracle man and lifelong member in good standing of the house rockin', pants droppin', earth shockin', hard rockin', booty shakin', love makin', heart breakin', soul cryin'... and, yes, death defyin' legendary E Street Band."

Exit Federici.

Article Of Interest: Newspapers In Decline

Sign of the times. According to Editor and Publisher, print newspapers continue its slow decline. The New York Times continues to slip. The Wall Street Journal remains neutral.

Wonder what the numbers are with The Globe and Mail and The National Post here.

There has to be a way to save it - assuming people care. I'm on it. No promises.

Article Of Interest: Terrorism

Thoughtful piece by Professor John Mueller who contends that the terrorist threat is overblown. Read about it here.


Blog Link Of Interest: Latin Lessons

'30 Latin Phrases You Should Know' from Delta's Dark Den Of Destruction.

Here's an excerpt:

ad valorem - "to the value" (used in commerce)
ante bellum - "before the war" (used to refer to wars)
bona fide - "in good faith" (nowadays it means genuine), opposite of mala fide
carpe diem - "seize the day"
ceteris paribus - "all other things being equal" (used in economics)
coitus interruptus - "interrupted congress" (a form of [ineffective] birth control)

Shouldn't They Be Protecting And Serving? Not Annoying Citizens.

So. A student gets fined $628 for sitting on a park ledge?

It's incidences like this that make me wonder what is wrong with some police officers. It was incredible enough to be picked up by UPI.

I used to work at Place Ville-Marie - Montreal's tallest building. In the center of the complex was nothing but ledges that people used to sit on, talk and eat lunch. Why aren't the cops circling PVM if it's against the law? Indeed, you'll have to give every single person (that would run in the thousands) across the city for this "infraction" which isn't an infraction at all.

Of course, this won't happen and the police aren't that petty but it makes you wonder what were the conditions that led them to give a ticket because the logic behind giving this student a fine is beyond comprehension. After all, we are not a police state.

Here's a letter to the editor concerning this episode:

"I would be more than happy to help this poor student contest this ticket, as it is one of the most absurd cases of police interference I've heard of.

I am a landscape architect, and I very clearly remember one of my classes being given by the landscape architect who designed Parc Emilie Gamelin (Square Berri at the time).

He explained to our class, in great detail, his thinking behind the design. One example is that when walking on de Maisonneuve Blvd., the ledge creates what is known as a "Ha Ha," where the immediate foreground and background are visible, but the actual park in between is not. Another aspect was that the large sculptures seen right behind Brendan Jones are intended to balance the orientation of the park.

Which gets to the point: This landscape architect (name available upon request) also told us that the park ledges were specifically designed as sitting areas. He told us precisely what architect Gavin Affleck mentions in the story; that an opportunity for "successful multi-use" should always be taken.

There is a very good reason why those granite ledges are the perfect height to act as a bench: they're meant to sit on. That's actually proper use of city structures."

Jeremy Glenn, Dorval

Article of Interest: Politics: Iraq

A progress report on the surge and additional Iraqi military divisions from The Long War Journal.

Blog Link Of Interest: American Politics

Interesting political piece found at Blog Critics by Dan Mller.

Blog Link Of Interest: Fatty Arbuckle

The Fatty Arbuckle story as explained by Obscure History blog.

I never tire of this sad story.

I believe he and Babe Ruth were friends...?


Article Of Interest: Politics: Assassination Attempt On Karzai

From The Long Journal Home. The Taliban take dead aim at President Karzai in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Links Of Interest: Oil Watch

Courtesy of The Oil Drum.

Oil, oil you make my blood boil.

You think the situation is bad for oil? From Business Day

This comes by way of Fact Check about Obama's claim he did not take money from oil companies.

Why America Is Interesting

The other day I was in a conversation with a friend. We were talking about the recent death of Danny Federici and music in general.

It lead to a larger discussion as to why there is no Canadian answer to Bruce Springsteen or Bob Dylan.

Sure, we have excellent singer/songwriters like Bruce Cockburn and Gordon Lightfoot and high-octane bands like The Tragically Hip who considered Canadian plots but they don't always transcend the Canadian experience. Quebec too certainly has their own versions of Springsteen but they have a language barrier to face and as such its appeal is limited.

America is filled with artists who consistently and constantly make it a cornerstone of their craft to explore Americana. It's an interesting phenomenon.

So why is this the case?

This is strictly an observation on my part but it has something to do with the types of societies Canada and the United States are.

America is a place where we see what human activity is really like free of too much interventionism (though there is a fair amount of it now) but Americans still consider themselves to be rugged individualists. That they've achieved this by avoiding murderous dictatorships and maintaining a sincere belief in democracy in a country of their size is a testament to their character.

What this has created is a nation that runs at full throttle bringing with it unrivaled wealth and innovation as well as staggering and glaring imperfections that teeter on inhumane. Some would even add a dysfunctional democracy.

Therein lies all the stories and plots available for social commentators to explore. It's a place where stories do not cease to be born. It's exciting and dangerous all at the same time.

Canada for its part is a straightline arrow. We chose to create a system and society that is stable but middle of the world. Though there are many events that take place here that are hardly dull, for the most part we're a society running under the speed limit. Some call it a commitment to mediocrity.

Hence, I think, there isn't really a need (or interest) to talk about Canadian values or stories too often. Besides, Canadian artists are in a no-win situation. If someone tries to become a Springsteen it may comes off as a cheap imitation. Many times it comes off as trying "to be American" or "cheesey" for some.

So Canadiana is not feasible in some ways.

That doesn't mean there aren't any storyline or historical incidences to sing about. There are. Sometimes Americans sing about them as was the case with Steve Earle when he sang about the Donnelly's.

The thing about Bruce Springsteen is that he takes stories about his surroundings and invokes powerful imageries wrapped in universal themes that everyone can relate to. For example, when he sings "My City Of Ruins" he speaks of Asbury, New Jersey. But it's very easy for, say, a Canadian or European to supplant Asbury with a town they hold dear to them. In Badlands, Springsteen talks of a person who is down on his luck and is lashing out at the world trying to improve his life. He wants to "spit in the face of these Badlands." Who can't connect on some level to this?

I bring up Badlands because I have witnessed fans sing to it live. You can see it in their eyes and faces that they live the lyrics of Springsteen songs.

That's the difference between Springsteen and just about everyone else. The songs are the people and the people are the songs. Many musicians manages to get their fans to chant or sing along but it's merely just that: sing alongs. Though Springsteen has magical rock songs in his repertoire that can bring us all back to basic rock'n roll, he has in his extensive and brilliant catalog songs that speak to people directly.

I know Springsteen talks about America. But his music transcends all that.

That's why Americans, in whatever form, are interesting: they can do that.

I Hate Bike Paths

I can only speak for the bike paths in those parts of the city I use. Whether it is indicative of other larger bike paths I will not say - though I have my suspicion it's pretty much the same everywhere.

A recent example saw a couple walking each using a lane. The man saw me coming but refused to move. I had to leave my lane into the street to avoid him. It was amazing.

It never ceases to amaze how oblivious people are on bike paths. Either they are taking up both lanes without a concern or they're blocking it by having conversations. They seem to be unaware that there are basic rules of etiquette on the bike paths. Drivers are no better. They seem unwilling to wait those extra few seconds to make sure there are no pedestrians or bikers on the path. Instead, they choose to "beat" them and roll through the stop.

I seriously could write a book of all the social infractions I have witnessed. Alas, I never have a pen and notepad handy.

I'm sure there will be many this summer.

The 2008 Montreal Hockey Riot

In a scene in The Simpsons, Chief Wiggum busts in on Fat Tony and his gang and claims to have them on murder. To which Fat Tony (voiceover Joe Mantegna) answers coyly, "What's a murder?"

I'm still chuckling as I write that.

Anyway, this is what I was reminded of when people, including the Mayor of Montreal Gilles Tremblay justified the recent riots following a hockey game as being perpetuated by people who weren't real hockey fans. Or specifically in the case of Mr. Tremblay, real Habs fans don't riot.

He's right up to a point. It only takes a few to ruin it for the majority. This is indeed the case here.

Nonetheless, it happened. Thus, his words can be interpreted to mean: Enter broom. Sweep dirt under the rug.

While it may be true that perhaps some of the troublemakers were indeed there to destroy property and possibly had planned for this beforehand, a good number of them were wearing Habs jerseys. Heck, some of them may even be good hockey players. And what to say of all the people who took part in the subsequent looting? I'm sure many, shrugged their shoulders and took advantage.

It's funny. When riots take place in Europe over soccer, everyone looks in horror and wonders what's wrong with them. It has to be a societal problem. When it happens here it's treated as an anomaly.

Is it?

I simply look for patterns. I'm not a psychologist or sociologist but the fact is that Montreal has a modest record of violence following games. Luckily for us, it has not reached the levels we've seen in Europe but in a North American context it's pretty colored. It happened in 1993. I believe it happened in 1986. And we all know 1955. We've also had a distasteful record of booing the American anthem for no apparent reason on a consistent basis in many arenas across the land. If you think the Canadian anthem is spared in Quebec think twice. O'Canada was always booed during the anthem at Montreal Expos games.

In Quebec, that's what we do: boo. But heaven forbid you criticize anything connected to Quebec.

So why not dismiss these people as "not real political aficionado's?" It's not a political statement.
It's disrespectful and boorish behaviour. How would we react if Americans incessantly booed our anthem for no reason? I think we can all guess.

Luckily for Canada, we've been spared European style social or political riots that last for days. Though we've had our share of them.

Two things to consider here: cues and upbringing.

Cues come in the form of leadership. If our leaders speak in a way it's alright to chastise people for speaking English all in the name of protecting French culture, well guess what? Some people will dutifully oblige. If the Mayor comes out and tells his citizens "don't worry, we're not like that" we all sit back and say, "phew!"

That's poor leadership. It sends the wrong cue to people.

Upbringing is another. Today, the family has seems to have abandoned its role in developing upstanding citizens. We "outsource" our responsibilities now. And even then, educators (traditionally those trusted to raise or kids in the absence of parents) are restricted with what they can do. No wonder people are reluctant to be accountable now.

We're not taught and the cues do not encourage it.

The other day I was riding my bike and noticed a mother and her son in the passenger seat (I will assume it was the son) coming up to a stop. She rolled right through it. What example did that set for her child?

That's just one small example but the point is that all begins with the family and ends somewhere in society - for good, bad or ugly.

We need to get back to the roots. There is no reason why so many kids should have been in the streets that late on a school after a hockey game.

Now the MUC, SQ and RCMP are joining forces to prevent future riots. We're in lock-down mode and unfortunately whatever good vibes were present during the series against the Boston Bruins were permanently removed after Game 7.

And what is this celebrating like idiots after a first round victory anyway?

Quesiton On Immigration From Europe To North America

I admitetly won't have time to research this so I'll just throw it out there: Following the World War II, why was there massive emigration from places like Germany, Ireland, Italy and some eastern European countries like Poland and Hungary, but not Spain to North America?

Of course, for some of these countries like Germany, Ireland, Sweden and to a lesser extent Italy immigration had been taking place for some time. As far back as the 17th century.

Other types of immigration came from countries like the Netherlands, France, England (and Scots) and Spain all of which were empires with interests in North America that lured people to the new world. But this is besides the point.

The point was why didn't Spaniards emigrate on a large scale? Did it have something to do with Franco?


Link of Interest: National Priorities Project

National Priorities Project

As found on their site:

National Priorities Project analyzes and clarifies federal data so that people can understand and influence how their tax dollars are spent.

Sub-Titles or Dubbing?

What type of movie person are you?

One that prefers sub titles or dubbing?

Personally, I find you lose too much with dubbing. If you're gonna watch a movie in its native language sub-titles helps to maintain the integrity of the film.


Oh, This Is Rich

Did it ever occur to anyone that TQS is not worth "saving?" It's a private company and a money-loser. They failed. Move on.

Chraest is using this to try and leverage the Federal government (what else is new with Canada?) into renegotiating telecommunications in this country - which I think means reopening the Constitution. Juuussst great. And then the other provinces would want the same thing. Why don't we just put a bullet in Canada's head at this point?

All these people deciding what we watch.

The thought of Quebec having its own CRTC sends shivers down my spine. What an insane idea. I simply do not trust any one of the three parties to be given such powers. Not Charest (to think he once was touted to lead the Conservatives and Canada), not Dumont (who has proven to be one heck of a disappointment for me) and the other girl from that party. Whatshername?

Here's a thought: how's 'bout we disband the CRTC?

To think that unelected people I don't know determine what content is appropriate for me and my family.

It's also sick how much dependence we have on government here.

Let me close this off with this excellent letter to the editor:

Charest decries TQS plan to cut news" (Gazette, April 24).

How much more can we taxpayers take?

"Premier Jean Charest is suggesting yet another bunch of bureaucrats run yet another régie to control another aspect of life in Quebec. If he has his way, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission would become the Quebec Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission.

When will this stop? We are a province of overtaxed, over-regulated, over-controlled people.

Quebec has gone from a religious-controlled culture to one controlled by incompetent bureaucrats presiding over the degradation in quality of life. Recently, Marcel Côté wrote of the lack of leadership in this province, the reason why Quebec lags behind in various spheres. McGill University is ranked 12th in the world as a learning institution, in spite of the lack of support from Quebec. But the leaders it educates and prepares are more likely than ever to leave Montreal and Quebec.

We need change in Quebec, not more regulation. We need a more open society that promotes youth and entrepreneurs regardless of language and culture. Educated francophones themselves are leaving for better opportunities. The head offices that left in the mass exodus of the 1970s have not been replaced by new ones - at least not by unsubsidized businesses.

When will it stop? Too much government is the road to ruin."

Richard Mertl


Questions And Thoughts About Culture, Corporations And China

1) We talk about realizing a an open and tolerant society. While I believe people do want this, there's an obstacle preventing this: you need to compromise on your own culture. That's why Quebec will never achieve true tolerance. They are not prepared to give an inch on culture. It's contradictory when they claim to want pluralism given their actions (legislation, rhetoric etc.) are contrary to this ideal. Is culture over rated?

2) What if corporations would turn around and take an ethical stand against countries with poor human rights records? What if sales actually went up as a result of doing what's right? Seems to me Coca-Cola should take the lead on this mystical journey.

3) Is it not naive to think that China will "see the light" after the Olympics? The thought that giving them the Olympics as a way of engaging China is futile. We ain't gonna change a proud, 5000 year old culture with a sparkling history like China. Na-uh.

Its not only naive, it's also somewhat arrogant on our part.


The Jean Talon Market: Of Revival And Closure

My family owns a building in the Jean-Talon market in the center of Montreal. It's considered to be prime location.

Right in the middle of the famous market and nestled in Little Italy, my father became a successful tailor by making Montrealers look fine. During the 1970s and 1980s he was at the top of his game and was considered to be the best at his craft.

I remember fondly when he would take my brother and I to his shop on Sunday mornings. The unmistakable scent of fabrics, the sounds of Italian soccer on the television and the site of a colorful market overrun by rugged fruits and vegetable farmer entrepreneurs remains with me today. My brother earned his first stitches there following a stunt only two hyper boys could attempt. Many a time we would bug my father to let us use the sewing machines. As he smoked he would watch over us. Of course, not being stable, mature guys, we'd always turn something into a joke and my father would send us outside until we headed home for, you guessed it, a typical Italian Sunday lunch.

The routine was simple. Get to the shop. Mess around. Ask questions. Go outside. Buy chocolate milk. And soak it all in.

Back then, the Jean-Talon market had a distinctive Italian and French-Canadian character. It was alive and bustling with guys shouting at one another passing boxes, laughing and sharing fruit. One guy I remember would always sing as he sold fruit. Another would sit in silence laughing as he sold his eggs. Sometimes a soccer ball or football would add to the whole affair. It was full of excitement that's for sure.

Everyone said hello to each other. It was rugged and free of any pretentiousness.

In the picture, the building with the Sami Fruit sign is ours. The larger brown building next to us happens to belong to out neighbour where we live and the to the left that property is owned by my uncle - my father's brother. This picture is a recent one and does not capture the good old days.

An example of a typical day was when my brother and I were sitting on the steps and my cousin, who worked for one of the fruit vendors, passed by with a box on his shoulders smoking (everyone smoked back then) looking like a greaser. He would shout out "hey, les cousins!" while on his way to make his drop later to return and sit with us and talk to my dad in Calabrese dialect. I don't see much of my cousin anymore.

My father's local was special. It wasn't the biggest spot but it was long and slender with big "vitrines" (windows). It was sort of a thru-way from Jean-Talon blvd. to the market in the back alley. We had the best view. Above all, it fed a family and served as a base for other projects.

Then, by the time the 90s rolled around the market was dying a slow death and no one was buying tailor-made suits anymore. The 90s were a dark decade as one massive fruit store with no interest in providing quality destabilized the market. There was no joie de vivre left. It became just a market of convenience with little else. The demographics had changed.

We always knew there was going to be a renaissance and indeed it came. Our tenant left (after destroying our place) and the market association proceeded to explain to us that the intentions were to make the market "haute gamme."

That much is true. Now it's young people that come. They buy three apples at a time, sit around in the new artisan food shops and run off. Back then, people bought by the case and interacted with the everyone in the market.

For me, the potential at a revival was nixed by the new layout of the market. It's not well thought out. Once upon a time you saw straight through to the other side from my father's place. The market was covered but opened. Now, they've completely closed off the middle thus choking off the view on both sides.

The picture reveals the center of the market directly in front of us before it was closed off. If you can see below the arches you can tell and imagine the openness of it all once upon a time.

The one thing I observed when the association came to us was that it seemed to me they were running a racket. I won't get into it here but my suspicion was confirmed when we got a firm offer on our building by a fruit owner who knew my father and has been there for over 35 years. It seems her place did not fit the new "look" the association were looking for so they want to rub her out.

By buying our building she in essence anchors and protects herself. Good for her.

Her timing is good because we are sellers. The local, once a place that defined our lives, was stripped to its four walls. On top of that, my father is not well. As far as the relationship goes, it has seen better times.

Now, we must do what we must. None of us (I have two sisters and a brother) want the headaches of running an aging commercial property opting instead to enter the residential side of the equation. Start fresh. This should have been done long ago for some of us.

Many decisions and weighing of options still have to be made but I can't help but feel a tad sad. On one end, it's our chance to build something bigger. On the other, I will permanently leave behind those fond memories.

"Hey, les cousins! Viens ici. Let's go pull a joke on Mario and Jean..."

More on Don Cherry

Riots in the streets. Booing American anthems. Pouring beer on opposing players in the penalty box.

If I EVER hear another Canadian look down condescendingly on Americans I will point them to the fine city of Montreal which suddenly forgets to act with any dignity or class during a lousy hockey game. Isolated or not. Mind you, this happens just a tad too often for my taste.

So. On the heels of the Montreal hockey riot (I still have to get to this on a blog post) Don Cherry defended Quebec police and described them as "the toughest in the world." He then proceeded to scold writers for not putting Carey Price on the rookie of the year ballot. And he was wearing a Montreal Canadiens tie.

Some may claim this is a ploy. Bah-hum-bug. Everyone knows Cherry doesn't do things he doesn't believe.

I'm not surprised by any of this. Here in Montreal we tend to be a tad sensitive. We ignore all the times he says positive things and get all bent out of shape when he dares criticize us. Then we write in our little columns about how nasty he is.

If these journalists have an ounce of fairness in them they would point this out.

Yeah right.

They won't and that leaves us bloggers to balance things out a little.


Dang It, It's Hot Outside

So I came upon a Life Magazine issue dating back to September, 1980. The title was 'The Cruel Summer' about the famous heat wave and subsequent devastating drought during that year - the worst it had been since 1954. Dallas in particular suffered 42 straight days of 100 degree temperatures.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the short piece:

"Highways buckled. Vast fields of wheat, corn and soybeans whithered and chicken died by the millions in in ovenlike coops..." And "Streets fell silent in the big cities as people imprisoned themselves in cooled offices and homes, reports of child abuse increased as parents fell prey to cabin fever."

As a point of interest, there was no mention of global warming.

Link Of Interest: Corporations

I picked this up over at quickhistory.net titled the 'Birth of the Corporation.'


A New Direction For CSI: Miami?

Is it me or is Horatio on CSI: Miami become a vigilante?

The Dark Knight.

Great. A modern day Bat-Man on CSI.

Blog Link: Code Pink

Ever hear of Code Pink?

I never did.

Here's a link to The Real World blog about Code Pink and how they protest the Marines and its recruiting office in Berkeley.

Good For Don Cherry

It's not lost on me how bizarre and infantile Montrealers have been acting when it comes to the CBC and Don Cherry. It was so bad that it reduced The Montreal Gazette (from columnists to letters to the editors) from a newspaper to a tabloid for thin-skinned babies.

Ugly stuff.

Not only was it shockingly one-sided and selective it was borderline incoherent and libel.

Although Cherry doesn't really need this blog to defend him as he can dish it out and take it - unlike some Gazette writers and some Montrealers.

As I said, we're good at stirring the pot when it suits us but the minute someone else stirs it with ingredients we disapprove of, we're up in arms. Such immaturity.

I'm glad Cherry used a few minutes on Coach's Corner to defend himself (without making any apologies) and scold us whiny Montrealers.

Too bad most of those who attack him were watching the blase RDS.

Of course, this won't stop them from grilling him anyway. After all, everyone picks and chooses what they want to hear and shout these days.

He's not anti-Montreal. I never detected that much from him. He's a Boston Bruin. End of story. This doesn't offend me as a Montrealer. We really should get over ourselves.

Nor is he a journalist. He's paid to provide opinions. There's a lot of things I don't like about Montreal sports radio and The Gazette (heck, I don't always agree with Cherry) but I personally choose to avoid as much as possible the level of anger Montrealers have exhibited in their excessive personal attacks on him.

And for those of you who will counter the CBC is national broadcaster, recall that Quebec hasn't exactly worked hard at wanting to be a part of the Canadian mosaic.

Besides, we have Radio-Canada as the French-language CBC to serve this market. RDS or R-C are both free to dictate the flow of their programming as they see fit. Furthermore, has anyone watched the wretched TQS and their sport show 110%? A show that exists to push and often go over the envelope? TQS once had the classless nerve to throw a hardcore, former FLQ seperatist on their panel during the insipid Shane Doan affair.

Why did they do that? What possibly could people have gained from it? Raymond Villeneuve did not disappoint. He proceeded to showcase no ability to talk sports and his awful ignorance when he called Canada a "nation of assholes."

Not one person on the panel said anything. No apologies. No outcry.

Luck us.

The difference is one is a parochial sports talk show that no one watches except for Quebecers and the other is watched nationally and is constantly scrutinized.

Like I said, lucky us.


The Importance Of Learning English In India And Quebec

It's interesting to read about how India is facing the challenges of learning English in the modern world economy and relate it to present day Quebec. For most of the 20th century India was still feeling the effects of British colonialism so learning English was naturally seen as giving in to the Imperialists who colonized them.

For Canadians, this sounds familiar where Quebec is concerned. Since the Quiet Revolution, the idea of "English" in any form was (and still) seen as a cultural enemy of the Quebecois identity.

But a funny thing happened along the way to protecting culture and identity: the Internet. India serves as a perfect example. How many of us have called a customer service department of a North American company only to be streamed to a call center in India? This is no doubt welcomed by Indians (a nation with serious poverty problems) as a means to perhaps break its rigid caste system - specifically, the Untouchables now see learning as a way out. However, the quality of English in these call centers is a concern and India has taken notice and are looking at ways to improve the standards of English being taught.

The internet is capable of destroying nationalism for one simple fact: the chance for economic and social upward mobility. With that, people across the world are connected. They work on projects together. They become friends. Nationality is secondary. If anything, it comes to be celebrated.

For example, I work with a partner out of the Netherlands. I have never met him but we have developed a professional relationship that has turned into a friendship. It truly is a remarkable thing. We are united in our desire to seek profits.

The binding language to communicate is naturally English.

While India looks to strengthen its work force by teaching English better, we in Quebec play needless language games. We have deplorably deprived English schools of proper funding. We are fighting a battle that is not even there. It's a kind of shadow boxing that will inevitably prove more destructive to us than anybody else. Who is served by such short sightedness?

Many Quebecers do want their children to learn English. They see that their political leaders send their kids to English schools in Canada or the United States. Indeed why should they be deprived? Yet, the government has the audacity to deny access to English schools for French-speaking Quebecers.

Once again, as the world turns, we curl.

Moreover, not only are we failing to encourage Quebecers to learn English we are providing poor French language instruction to all Quebecers.

India looks to advance with English. Quebec hopes to advance by limiting it.

Who will prevail?

Article of Interest: Bill Maher Not Funny Nor All That Smart?

You know, if you're going to mix current events and history and humour, the least you can do is do some additional research. It is imperative you verify every angle of the subject you are about to comment on. If you fail to consider the entire catalog of facts, it will blow up in your face.

On the surface, it's all too tempting to call the Pope a Nazi (just like Dubya) but dig a little and we see just how complex history and humanity can be. Duh.

This seems to often a little too often to Bill Maher. Mr. Maher does not seem to grasp that it's not enough to read interesting things most people know little of and run with it. You need to approach your job as though you are a historian or political scientist. Exhaust all research avenues available to you.

Religion is way too easy a target these days by people who scant understand its history.

Alas, this is entertainment. Are we asking for too much?

The Problem With Canadians Watching American Advertising

Television - "Right Price, Right Store. Kroger's!"

The Commentator: "We should go to Kroger's."

The Commentator's Companion: "What are you talking about now?"

TC: "Look at how delicious the meat looks. I also wonder what it would be like to buy milk in those containers."

Companion: "We don't have Kroger's in Canada."

TC: "Hm, celery is on special. Let's go!"

Companion: "You have problems."

TC: "Quick, get dressed. We'll finish this later. If we leave now we can make it to New York before closing time."

Exit: We don't know if the companion followed.


Blog Link: Thoughts On African History

The Pen and the Spindle considers Africa's Politically Incorrect History.

Here's an excerpt:

"The shadow of this greatness was faint by the time the first European explorers touched the eastern coastline. The descendants of the empire were decimated by disease, loss of historical identity, and all the ills that befall and destroy great civilizations over time. But there were still families who passed down documents and ephemera from this now mythical time, and explorers bought and stole these, as had Arab slavers and explorers before them, and perhaps even Chinese slavers and explorers."

Tributes To Danny Federici

E Street is silent these days.

Read moving tributes here at App.com and Backstreets.com

One from Southside Johnny as posted on his website:

"So we lose another friend... I have known Danny since he started playing at the Stone Pony back in the late 60s. He was always a crusty guy with a sarcastic sense of humor, so, of course, we got along just fine. I can recall many nights jamming on blues and rock & roll classics, then he and I,Garry, and whomever else was on stage would shift into some jazz standard or improvise on a chord progression. He was a much more advanced musician than most of us at the time, and he raised the bar for all of us. It was embarrassing to hear how good he already was and to listen to your own pitiful efforts. And, yes, for all you REAL early fans out there, Danny was the one who pushed the speaker cabinets over onto the chief of police who was behind the stage trying to cut the power on a Steel Mill concert. There were arrest warrants, so he always denied it, but I was back there and saw him get up and do it. No one was hurt, but it helped keep the show going. Good on ya, Danny. Rest easy."

Italy Goes With Berlusconi

Italians elected Silvio Berlusconi and his centre-right coalition for the fourth time this past week end. Interestingly, Rob at Wind Rose Hotel points out:

"Now Italy has only five parties represented in Parliament, instead of about twenty, and what is more, in my view, no far right and radical left parties. That’s why I personally congratulate … both the winner and the loser: perhaps Italy is becoming a normal country. Viva Veltrusconi!"

The Economist is skeptical that Berlusconi is the right man to bring changes to Italy. They reach back to the quote “everything must change so that everything can stay the same,” written by Giuseppe di Lampedusa, author of the great Sicilian novel “The Leopard” to philosophically make their case.

Well, he does seem to be occupied (and obsessed) in retooling the legendary AC Milan soccer club (a team he happens to own) by going after certain key players.


Link of Interest: Some Tips On How To Handle Salesmen

"7 Lies You'll Hear From Salesmen At Electronics Stores" by The Consumerist.

Try and turn down the warranty in these places. They look at you like a pimple just exploded and puss oozed down your face onto the counter.


Danny Federici Passes Away At 58

For 40 years, accordion player, keyboardist and organist Danny Federici was a soul brother and essential contributor to Bruce Springsteen's legacy and the E Street Band sound. The news of his death saddens me as a fan of music and an admirer of the music of Bruce Springsteen and the musical institution known as the E Street Band.

See Brother Danny's last special appearance on March 20 playing the accordion on Sandy over at BruceSpringsteen.net

RIP Danny Federici.

The final embrace:

Congress Woo's It Up

United States Reprentative Sue Myrick of North Carolina took one minute in Congress to honour the career of Ric Flair.

Ric Flair?

Is This Book Out Of Print?

In 1796, German author Johann Cristoph Friedrich Gutsmuths wrote, Games for the Exercise and Recreation of the Body and Spirit for the Youth and His Educator and All Friends of Innocent Joys of Youth.


Who was his editor?

Anyway, I came across this title in a book called "Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search For The Roots Of The Game by David Block and later in George Vecsey's "Baseball."

Here's the title of my future book about this blog:

Super Fantastic Journey Reading for Mental Massage and Incredible Development of the Mind, Body, Soul For All My Friends, Enemies and Relatives.


Article: Business: Time To Deregulate Canada's Broadcast System

Finally some common sense. Quebecor President and CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau suggests it's time to deregulate the broadcast system.

General Rick Hillier Resigns. Leaves Big Void In Military

General Rick Hillier is Canada's answer to General David Petreaus.

A man who firmly believes in Canada's mission in Afghanistan, he served Canada heroically and honourably - and with personality. He reintroduced the military to Canadians and made us realize that there is nothing wrong in supporting this institution. We went from a "we don't need the military" mentality throughout the 1990s to one where we have come to understand its importance again.

Defence analyst David Bercuson says don't expect another Hillier any time soon.

Animation: The Final Passing Of A Golden Age

It always saddens me to read about lost and forgotten gems dying off. The latest being the last of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men" Ollie Johnston.


Are Canadians Overly Sensitive?

When it comes to the Quebec-Canadian-American triangle, it certainly looks and feels that way.

We like to stir the pot but we don't like to be stirred?

I'm going to say yes. Yes, we are sensitive.

Blog Link Of The Day: Water For Gas

Here's a link to Auto Infomation Blog discussing this new fad - erm, scam.

Is Canada On The Right Economic and Business Track?

Curious to know how Canada is doing in areas like competitiveness, productivity, rethinking the workforce, international trade, foreign relations, resources and how it treats its cities?

If you said yes to one or all of these you're in luck. Read here a report and review prepared by The Canada Project as found in the Conference Board of Canada elibrary.

The part I was particularly interested in was with regards to creating a single Canadian market. No progress was made on this front:

"The Alberta and British Columbia governments continue to work toward full implementation of their Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA), and the federal government has indicated its willingness to cooperate with other provinces to extend the TILMA framework. However, prior to the recent Saskatchewan provincial election—and in the face of fierce union opposition to such agreements—the Saskatchewan government decided not to join the TILMA. Ontario’s brief interest in pursuing TILMA arrangements seems to have faded away, although Ontario and Quebec continue to discuss bilateral barriers (for instance, to labour mobility)."

As a whole, the progress report reveals that on average, Canada's performance can be summarized in one word: mediocre. Or as The Canada Project puts it: sobering. The only areas that can be characterized as above average were in rethinking the workforce and renewing the urban infrastructure.

In urban infrastructure: "Finally, any effective plan to renew municipal infrastructure
will require fixing the governance and executionfailures in the management of infrastructure by provincial and municipal governments and private contractors, as detailed in the report of Quebec’s Johnson commission of inquiry into the collapse of the Laval overpass."

In immigrant settling programs (under rethinking the workforce) some interesting plans are in place:

"Maple Leaf Foods in Brandon, Manitoba, serves as a notable example of firm-level settlement and social integration support. Maple Leaf made arrangements to rent apartments for foreign workers, and negotiated with the city to change bus routes to ensure that foreign workers have access to public transportation to get to and from work. Community organizations also assist immigrants in Brandon. For example, community volunteers there put on free, week-long summer camps to help children of immigrants practise their English language skills so they can make more seamless transitions into the school system."

Though social cohesion remains troublesome in Toronto: "Three reports published in 2007 highlighted the extent of the social cohesion challenge in Toronto. The United Way’s Losing Ground documented growing income inequality across the city: close to 30 per cent of families live in poverty, a statistic that rises to 50 per cent for single-parent families. The University of Toronto study The Three Cities Within Toronto also underscored the fact that one of Canada’s richest cities has become one of the most divided, with more than a third of its neighbourhoods classified as poor. Meanwhile, the Conference Board’s report City Magnets: Benchmarking the Attractiveness of Canada’s CMAs noted the troubling income disparity between immigrant and non-immigrant residents. Given the growing awareness of the importance of attracting talent for urban economic prosperity, and as more evidence comes to light on urban divides, pressure for action should intensify on this issue."

In trade, Canada is marked by contradictions: "Regarding Canada’s role in multilateral trade negotiations—particularly concerning the leadership it should be showing at the WTO—the past year has seen no progress at revitalizing the Doha Round of negotiations and no change to Canada’s approach on the international stage. Even as Canada argues that other countries should open their markets by removing tariffs, non-tariff barriers, and subsidies in sectors like agriculture, it continues to insist on protectionist measures for its own agricultural sector (in dairy, poultry, and eggs, for example). This fundamental inconsistency must be resolved if Canada is to restore its credentials as an international leader on trade issues."

Keep in mind, the study only covers a one year span.


What Else Is New In Canada?

Don't be fooled. Bill C-10 amounts to censorship.

Here's Canada's impressive record on freedom.

Remembering The Hochelaga School Fire

In death we find heroes and heroines. And so it happened with a a tragedy at Hochelaga School 1907.

The link gives the names of those who perished. One such person was principal Sarah Maxwell aged 31. Reading them left me with a strange feeling.

Thanks to the outstanding Coolopolis for this.

The Daily Star Give Public Apology To Marco Materazzi

As I wrote on this blog during the World Cup and discussed on a local sports radio show as a soccer guest, Marco Materazzi was guilty before the truth came out. The irresponsible accusations in the Daily Star hurled toward him only served to allow Zidane to escape facing his actions for head-butting a fellow footballer. I did my best to bring objective perspective to this but one of my predictions did come true: I said that in due time, Materazzi would be vindicated.

The Daily Star publicly apologized. Materazzi accepted.

Following the head butt incident, the Italian Soccer Federation were no match for the French public relations machine that went into overdrive in protecting its fallen star. Furthermore, coupled that with a racist article (and let's be frank it was racist. Not "satire") published in Der Spiegel this was not a pleasant time for Italian players. In fact, it may have strengthened their resolve.

The act was surreal in itself. The reaction to it was even more extraordinary. With scant proof (except for Materazzi's reputation as an instigator and agitator not unlike hockey player Sean Avery of the New York Rangers) the Star assaulted and smeared the name of a player. The fall out? It went as far as to lead to death threats.

Finally, the soccer world can put this to final rest.

Unless of course the mouth that roared Shlepp Blatter decides to weigh in with another one of his profound and bias ruminations. Last, Italian soccer fans will never forget that Blatter was the first FIFA president to break traditional protocol and not present the trophy to Italy.

Indeed, it was a classless display.


Tipping Over: Protestors Losing Moral High Ground By Resorting To Thuggery

This is a symbol of protecting all that is good in the Olympic ideal. Are protestors losing credibility? They seem to be all too ready to use violence to attain their objectives. China and its political relation to Tibet is the issue. Not the Olympics and the people carrying a recognized international symbol of peace.

Article: AIDS

Piece on AIDS denialists from Skeptical Inquirer written by Nicoli Nattrass.

Article: Military: Terrorism

While the losses and is often reported, rarely do we hear about the successes. The fight against global terrorism is not restricted to Iraq or Afghanistan. It's a protracted war as most people know. The article from Strategy Military Pages looks at Kashmir.

The Sunday Commentator: Article on Politics: The Company You Keep

From day one I was skeptical of Obama. It's only natural given he kind of came out of nowhere. To be sure, there were moments where he intrigued me and I posted about it. While he has the courage to discuss certain touchy issues, sometimes I wonder of if he is a case of plus ca change...

Consider this article in the conservative National Review by Andrew C. McCarthy.

Hmm. Wonder if Michael Moore will make a movie about this. Much has been made about the Bush's family attachment to the House of Saud. But what about the relationship Obama has with the characters mentioned in the article? Well, we know Moore is not about the truth so let's forget that notion. It would be a tad unfair to give Obama a pass but not others on this particular issue.

Sometimes you are not the company you keep. Personally, I grew up with people who ended up in organized crime. I played sports with them. Hung out and shared an espresso with them. Joked around and debated.

I always knew there was a fine line between socializing with them and becoming a part of their world. My father was always sure to remind my brother and me. It was our own private "A Bronx Tale."

I kept this in mind when I was reading the article. That Obama has flirted and befriended people of questionable character and accepted a philosophical outlook that is rather divisive and regressive is his personal choice. The truth is that as it is described, these are not just misguided people. But citizens of low moral fiber. Individuals that Dante would have no trouble finding room for in The Inferno.

As it turned out, I wasn't running for office and always knew where to draw the line. Many times I had intimate conversations with the people I know about why they chose their route in life. I learned early that in life people choose their paths and that I can either agree with it or not. I came to understand it but never accepted it. I never judged but I didn't attempt to justify it either. We all have choices. We instinctively know the difference between right and wrong.

It's hard to believe that Obama, who by all account seems like an inherently decent person (the eyes say a lot) can't tell the difference. It does look like he and his wife crossed a line I was never prepared to do.

He should face this with truth and honesty. Not with the shrugging of shoulders. He made his bed. Now we will find out if he is willing to sleep in it.

Note: Just wanted to drop another perspective on this. After discussing this with a sports radio host from Boston, who shall remain nameless, he made the point that, "Dissent is built in to the foundation of the union."

And in the interest of balanced perspective read this at Urban Legends... of all places.


Article Of Interest: Mugabe Chooses To Not Step Aside

From The Economist. Not surprisingly, the Butcher of Zimbabwe clings to power.

Opinion Of The Day

I pulled this from the Letters to the Editors in the Montreal Gazette.

"The pro-Tibet, would-be Games-busters come across to me as either mindless, knee-jerk, immature reactionaries, sanctimonious zealot activists or unreconstructed, pathological anti-communists. I don't think any of them have ever taken a 101 course in Tibetan feudal, Taliban-style theocracy.

According to Human Rights Watch, less than a third of the world's countries have judiciaries that bring people to trial in a reasonable time.

Almost the same number of countries offer no protection for women and children (10-year-olds work in factories in Puerto Rico) and minorities.

Should the International Olympic Committee allow only countries with democratically elected governments and admirable judicial systems to participate at all in the Games?

If we allowed only governments that subscribe to the Jeremy Bentham ideal - doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people - all but a few dozen would be barred from participating in the Games.

On the plus side, though, Canadian athletes would probably win lots of medals."

B. Jewitt

I agree with the Bentham analogy. The letter does help to bring some perspective to the whole boycott the Olympic games movement. Protestors pick and choose what they want to be over-zealous about.

Although, I would submit that Canada's medal count would not rise. Most of the countries that would not permit are not exactly athletic success stories. Chances are Canada would still trail behind the usual suspects - including its brethren in the G8 and Australia.


Article: Iraq: A Russian Perspective

So what do those pesky Russians think of America in Iraq? Link to RIA Novosti titled 'Is There Progress In Iraq?"

Article: Illy and Coca-Cola's Caffeine Set To Kick In

Is nothing sacred anymore? This article is from Italy's Corriere Della Sera

Thanks to Illy and Coke, the ready-to-drink market will now have cappuccino and latte in a can.

At least it's Made in Italy.

Speaking of coffee, here's a thought for Starbuck's:

Use real baristas behind the counters. It'll cost a bit more but if you claim to be selling quality coffee (and I do feel the quality is good) use professional coffee connaisseurs to enhance the image of your product. Instead of all these clueless kids who can barely use the machine.

Just a thought.

Link of Interest: Report On Gulf Oil

"The Coming Oil Windfall in the Gulf" from McKinsey Global Institute.

"In any plausible oil-price scenario, the wealth of the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will continue to grow significantly between now and 2020. At an oil price of $70 a barrel, the six nations of the GCC would earn a cumulative $6.2 trillion by 2020, or more than triple the amount they earned from 1993 through 2006. Decisions by Gulf leaders on how to use this wealth will have global repercussions for decades."

Article of Interest: Death, Taxes and Albert Einstein

Ever wonder what Albert Einstein may have thought of income taxes? This was found on the World History Blogs Network. It was written by Mark Hertzberg.

You may be wondering why there are so many articles of interest posts. Perceptive bunch. Just haven't had time to write my usual profound thoughts lately. Will be back very soon. Nonetheless, they make for good reading.


Article of Interest: America's Future Lies With The Sovereign Self

Interesting article by Glenn Back on CNN:

American Needs a 12-Step Program

Indeed, focus on the positives. Stop finger pointing.

Here's a link to JFK's "Ask Not What You Can Do" speech.

Article of Interest: The Murky World Of Irongate 2

This comes by way of the Canadian Free Press. It explores the possibility of a Second Irangate titled "Was There A Second Irongate?"

eCommerce Software Made Easy With Ashop

It's a couple of years I've been aiming to add a new dimension to this blog by adding some technology posts and information I come across. This is why I've slowly been adding technology blogs in my links section. I'm not a technology expert or enthusiast but there is no escaping the importance of paying attention to it - Especially as more people look to the internet to start a business.

That said, every time I read something on the technology front I will try and post about the site I visit. Now is a good time to start.

A large and sometimes overlooked stumbling block in building an internet business is finding and implementing shopping cart software. One that includes a secure place for people to check out and go pay for an item they have selected.

Yes, eCommerce software companies design those little shopping carts and paypal buttons we see on websites consumers shop on. What did you think? It grew on internet trees?

If you're new to the technology community finding a company you can trust to enable this feature can be tough.

Start with Ashop Commerce. In a nutshell and based in Australia, Ashop is a leading provider of eCommerce software. Visitors to the tastefully presented site will appreciate the amount of information available about Ashop’s products and services. Interestingly, some sites with a lot of information tend to be over whelming to the point of leaving prospective clients in a daze. I did not get this feeling here. In fact, there was a subdued tone which leaves the impression that there is substance to the company.

Another important element of the site is the absence of jargon. It’s presented in a straight forward manner in simple language anyone can understand. There have been many times I’ve been on tech sites and muttered to myself, “What are they saying?” That’s when I shut the browser.

I was actually able to sit and read the contents of the site.

And oh yeah, it comes with a 10-day free trial offer.

That’s always good.


How Come No Celebrities Wear This T-Shirt?

The staphylococcus bacteria and its strains can kill more than AIDS. Yet hardly a peep in the public discourse about this. Maybe because we're busy exposing disproportionately some diseases at the expense of others?

Articles of Interest: Where's My Bread?

An article from the CBC on food shortages have gripped Egypt and Haiti.

Government subsidized bread?

My favorite quote:

"Currently if you're in Haiti, unless the government is subsidizing consumers, consumers have no choice but to cut consumption. It's a very brutal scenario, but that's what it is."

Anyway, Egypt and Haiti aren't the only two countries facing soaring food prices. Italy had a pasta strike in 2007 and Mexico has had to deal with sky rocketing corn prices. Social Text considers this here.

Actually the article explores other issues and is a fascinating read.

Looking For Electronics?

My good friend called me the other day. “Commentator, I need a website to compare cameras fast. I have no time to look for it.”

He runs a million dollar company so I knew he wasn’t being lazy.

True story.

When I had to renew my passport a few years back, I needed someone who was authorized to sign my passport. My friend qualified because he’s an engineer. One of things asked on the paperwork was how long we knew each other. At the time it was 24 years. Imagine that and we were only 34!

The next day the government called my friend. It seems that 24 years was an improbability to them. He didn’t know what to say except that it was true. They also called me. I told them “you think that’s crazy? I have another close buddy whom I’ve known for over 30 years!”

It all ended well.

Anyway, what he needed was a website to do some comparative shopping. My brother mentioned Digxa to me. I ended up spending 45 minutes on the site. I own a Nikon camera and was curious to see what Digxa had on them. I went through all 72 listings.

The neat thing about it is that it not only offers you ratings from its own site but others like Amazon, Photoalley and Ritz Camera as well – to name a couple. So users get a full global picture of that the rating is like about the camera they are considering. What more, if you find the camera you like at the price you want, you can click and go straight to the site or store you want to buy it from.

Digxa doesn’t just list cameras. It covers home and garden, clothes, kids and toys, electronics, jewelry and all the subheadings within. For example, home and garden includes tableware, appliances as well as other accessories. There are literally thousands – at least that’s what my eye perceives – of items to compare.

It’s pretty straight forward and easy to use.

As usual, I look for that contact page and there it was at the bottom of the page. No need to go out searching for it with a flash light.

My friend called me back and told me he found what he needed in 15 minutes.

No commission was forthcoming.


Bill Buckner Vindicated

My thoughts on Bill Buckner's moment at Fenway at Intersportswire.

It was a great scene in Boston. Finally, people are acknowledging that without Buckner the Red Sox may have not reached the playoffs and World Series.

We all know it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and career. It only takes a day to destroy everything.

Buckner paid his dues and Boston finally set him free.


Link of Interest: Exploring the Kharijites

A resource for Kharijites - Islam's first terrorists.

The first link takes you to Global Security.org. The second to Islam Awareness.

An excellent article on the Kharijites was written by Clive Foss in History Today. If you can find a copy of the article it's worth the read. Unfortunately, the site does not seem to archive it.

I did manage to find this online book titled Muslim Rebels: The Kharijites and the Politics of Extremism in Egypt. Author JT Kenney.

Remembering Baseball in Canada

I miss the Montreal Expos terribly.

A collection of radio and television clips on the CBC.ca about baseball in Canada. This clip in particular discusses how the arrival of baseball in Montreal came to be. Notice how Gordon Atkinson didn't think it was logical for MLB to locate in Canada suggesting they should go to Japan first. How wrong he was. He overlooked Canada's own historical attachment to the game especially through the Montreal Royals. Baseball did have roots in Canada and it did make sense for MLB to come here. It made no sense to go to Japan.

However, he did (perhaps unwittingly) touch on the idea of North American sports leagues expanding abroad. The NBA has begun exploring the possibility of having a European division and the NFL will play an exhibition game in Toronto. There have been some grumblings that one day a European hockey division may be created in the NHL and MLB has certainly flirted with the idea of setting up in Mexico and is laying down the tracks to Japan.

Regardless, for me the Expos defined many a summer day and night. Val-de-ri, Val-de-ra! Val-de-ri! Val-de-ra! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

I can make you one promise. If I'm to ever earn enough cash, I will work to bring baseball back to Montreal.

Assuming of course the economics make sense.

Blog Sites Of History: American Civil War

This came by way of The Pen and the Spindle (link in sidebar under History) which is always a neat way to begin searching about history topics. Sure enough I landed on the site Clio and Me. There I found my to a place called Civil War Memory.

CWM has an interesting post for Civil War buffs - and we know there are many. This includes Columbus Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock. And he's Canadian - called The Five Most Influential Civil War Books of the Last Twenty Years.

Useful Blog Link Of Interest: eParenting University

You know what? This is a great resource for parents.

Charlton Heston: 1924 -2008

Heston passed away on April 6. He led quite the interesting and intriguing life. The link will take you to his obituary in the New York Times.

His acting and films were famous all over the world.

Fortunately, blogs are remembering the more important parts of Heston's life. No one seems to be recalling the awful hatchet job Michael Moore did on him in his film "Bowling for Columbine." The more I think about it the more it makes my head shake in disapproval.

There Is Help For People With Bad Credit Loans

As you know, every once in a while I talk finances. You can take the boy out of financial services but you can’t take finances out of the boy.

I know someone who has bad credit. It has essentially handicapped their life. It mostly happened when she was young, carefree and careless. And now she must live by the fall out. There's a certain loss of economic flexibility and independence that comes with bad credit. She can't sign for anything on her own and must live vicariously through someone who is willing to sign for her.

"I was so naive and irresponsible back then. I’ve had to live with the consequences," she told me recently.

It is indeed sad she feels helpless and hampered by a bad credit rating.

The temptation to tell her “I told you so” was great but I didn’t need to. Besides, it’s not really my style. But she did add, “I should have listened to you and Mario!” Mario was at the time, ironically enough, a VISA representative. He and I tried in vain to get her to clean up her act.

Nonetheless, while my friend is now on the path to rehabilitating her bad credit history, there are options available to other people in her situation.

One place is Bad Credit Loans. This website offers people the chance to choose and compare home, auto and personal loans as well as credit cards that is right for them. It’s sort of like a user guide. People have all sorts of credit issues with bad credit credit cards and can view Bad Credit Loans as a second chance to rehabilitate their credit and lives. I don’t know what kind of interest companies offer so it’s best people do their homework and ask many questions.

The site is incredibly easy to navigate around, is clean, well presented and linear in its consistency with its message and purpose. One thing I look for in a website is how easy it is to find the “contact us” page. When it is hard to find it tells me a company doesn’t want to be found or contacted. Not troubles here. It also offers instant approval options.

I don’t know of any other options for people in this situation. If I hear of anything I’ll definitely post about it. For now, you may want to check out Bad Credit Loans.


Blog Link Of Interest: Abandonment Issues

Came across this very interesting blog called 'Understanding the Effects of Unresolved Abandonment Issues' through Blog Catalog. The article is titled "Why Parents Kill."

Google/Blogger Customer Service Is Terrible

Just awful. No contact page. No ask us page. No nothing. Just an incredibly complicated maze of this and that and information that raises more questions than anything. It's quite the frustrating experience navigating through the Byzantine Empire that is Google.

Who ever is the customer service big taco needs to go back to school and learn the basics of what customer service is all about.

Blog For Money

I know there are many bloggers out there who love to write and must often wonder to themselves "if only I could get paid to blog." Most bloggers write because they love to write and don't necessarily need to earn added income. Still, I wanted to learn more about it.

I was browsing around the internet looking for content for this blog and came cross Smorty.com. Normally, I just bounce over get paid for blogging sites however Smorty seemed a little different. First, the site is clean and easy to navigate around. It explains clearly what and who they are and what they expect of bloggers. Though it can get a little caught up in web-based jargon that can confuse a novice such as “anchor texts” but fortunately this is kept to a bare minimal.

If the bare minimal is confusing Smorty can indeed be contacted for any questions or concerns you may have. I sent two emails and received quick, professional responses. Overall, the language is simple enough to capture a bloggers attention to understand Smorty’s business mission.

What is that mission? Smorty aims to be “a bridge” between advertisers and bloggers. More importantly for bloggers, Smorty pays anywhere between $6 and $60 per posts. Do the math. That’s not bad just to write an opinion.

Conversely, blog advertising is available on Smorty for anyone looking to expose and market their companies and services. Advertisers looking to begin a campaign can set up and be linked to bloggers for write ups.

What I found intriguing personally about Smorty is that if you’re planning or just getting started in web copy or advertising, Smorty can be used a resource to practice and sharpen your skills. For bloggers concerned about mixing in ad writing within the content of their blog you may want to think about this as the ads must permanently remain on your site among your posts.

Other than that check out the rules and explanations, weigh your options and make your own decision.

If you’ve been looking to blog for money, follow this link to Smorty.com.


Can I Vote?

"With American democracy, there aren't 300 million voters. There are 6.6 billion." The Commentator.

Glancing over international blogs and one will surmise this much. Everyone has an opinion on American politics. Many people argue and debate the candidates as if they represent their own country.

The power and pull of the United States of America remains quite intoxicating.

Blog Link Of Interest: Avoid Those Spammers

Practical tips on how to avoid spam email from Karlonia.com.

Now I know why I keep getting "invitations" from Russian women to date, traffic or marry them.


Link of Interest: Obama Ignorant Of Black History?

This is an excellent and scathing piece by Nina May about Obama and race politics in America. It posits an interesting angle as to where the real "race war" lies. One in which I have certainly considered in various discussion groups.

Here's an excerpt:

"There was a big problem with Barack’s mea culpa speech in Philadelphia, defending his racist pastor, Jeremiah White. He failed to mention that over 300,000 white Americans gave their lives to end slavery. He didn’t mention that in 1854, abolitionists left the Democratic Party and founded the Republican Party specifically for the purpose of ending slavery and giving equal rights to all those who had been in bondage. And when he does mention the 3/5ths clause in the Constitution, he totally got it wrong, the way most Americans do. News flash...it was the abolitionists who insisted on it so that the slave holding states could not have their slaves counting as constituents so they could get more pro-slavery representation in congress. This is one of the most powerful battles fought by whites, to end slavery, which has been mischaracterized as being racist.

He needs to read the history of this battle for equality and realize that the party he embraces today was the party that voted against the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, while the Republicans supported them unanimously. He needs to acknowledge that the two dozen civil rights bills that were passed by the Republicans were overturned by the Democrats when they regained control of the House, Senate and White House at the end of the 19th Century.

It was at this time that the Democratic Party instituted Jim Crow laws. It was not whites that did this against blacks, it was bigoted, racist Democrats who would choose to divide a nation rather than give freedom to those they considered inferior. Had blacks been voting equally in both political parties, there never would have been literacy tests, poll taxes or other restrictions to voting. But because all blacks at this time identified with the party of Lincoln and were actually the ones starting Republican parties in southern states, and running and getting elected as Republicans, the Democrats knew that to kill a Black person was killing a Republican."

Link of Interest: Next Up. Cyberterrorism?

Foreign Policy magazine interviews former U.S. counter-terrorism chief Richard A. Clarke.

Well, we've seen enough movies to know this may be the next thing. Gee, maybe Hollywoodians do know something after all.

The NDP Are Pathetic

I seriously thought about whether I should post about this. At first, I shrugged my shoulders, took a bite our of my granny smith and dismissed it. After all, it has little to do with politics.

Then, I thought about it again. Political tactics have become so cynical and wicked these days that it has corroded modern politics to the point of it being nothing but a showcase in buffoonery.

And the do-goodin', let's nationalize evry'thing, create a massive big brother state, New Democratic Party are not above it. Come to think of it, there's nothing "new" in this democratic-socialist party. In fact, as of right now I ordain them the Old Democratic Party. For the record, a political party that feels the need to remind itself that it is democratic in its title should be looked upon with suspicion.

To me, what Tom Lukiwski said at a convivial party was distasteful and misguided. His words were, “homosexual faggots with dirt under their fingers who spread diseases."

Just imagine him that night after he uttered those words, "Wait. That didn't come out right. There was a Jew, Italian and Irishman..."

To his credit, Mr. Lukiwski apologized. We should all move on. It happened 17 years ago. The Liberals, not surprisingly, want him kicked out. Don't get me going on that bunch of scammers.

Remember when that NDP MP, whatshisforgettablename, stood up in Parliament and accused Dubya of "eating babies?" Yeah, how is that any better? Slandering a political leader based on conspiratorial hyperbole is every bit as depraved and retarded. Ah, but he was expressing is right to free speech!

Bah. As my Quebecois brethren say, "C'est quoi'll blague?"

Politics are made by hacks for hacks now. The spinsters and PR gurus rule the landscape just like marketing execs with little interest in sports preside over the world of athletics. It is what it is.

With regards to this "news," I would suggest we leave the muckraking to journalists and TMZ. How the NDP feels they can capitalize on this is beyond me. If they felt they wanted to make the point that persistent misogynist and racist attitudes still exists in the Reform/Conservative ranks, then best they use more updated and relevant information. Their strategy is as stale as flat beer. As old as a comedian who recycles 17 year-old jokes. Ha, ha. Get new material, Andrew.

I'm glad most blogs I've read have pasted them for doing it.

Hey, Jackie. Want my vote? Sell me on ideas. Get to work. Chop, chop.

Electric or Hummer: Who Is Green And Who Is Black?

Ok, like, are electric cars more green? The link is from 'The Straight Dope.'

I briefly discussed a more historical aspect of electric cars here.

There's a "pile-on" type of mentality that is gripping us all when it comes to matters of science. By this I mean persons with a partisan position to postulate (ooo, big word) will stake their claim and read or write (sometimes thoughtlessly) anything that supports their beliefs until we're all bludgeoned to intellectual death. It gets to a point it's impossible to tell who knows what they're talking about. They each pile on a particular subject.

We always have to ask "cui bono?" before every single thing we read. Including this blog. I mean, come on. Who the heck is The Commentator anyway? If you must know, I'm only a dolphin ma'am.*

There's even a more sinister, anti-freedom "wolf pack" tendency whereby somebody who takes a different angle or opinion the opposing view will rip them to shreds. We see this in politics a lot. Don't believe me? Have you taken a look at how greeners react whenever a blog or journalists dares question global warming and lord master Al Gore?

Yes. The "subject is closed" indeed, Mr. Gore. I know one thing: when someone attempts to gag debate that's when it is just beginning.

All this to say, in an unusual cluttered way, the electric car debate continues.

*To get this reference please think back to SNL and a comedy sketch called 'Landshark.' It's about a shark played by Chevy Chase who preys on women. In one skit, the unsuspecting person wises up to the sharp, devious shark and doesn't open the door. The shark, undeterred, tries to fool her and replies, 'I'm only a dolphin ma'am.' This lowers her guard and she opens the door only to be swallowed. Funny.

How I went from electric cars to Landshark is beyond me.

Saturday Night Live - Season 1 - Land Shark