2010-09-30

Bad Habits

I've noticed people have taken to wearing earphones (for their i-somethings I reckon) while driving in the car. Dunno 'bout you but that's irresponsible. How can they hear a siren or a car honking at them? Of course, someone will say "I listen to them low and can hear everything." Bull. They shouldn't be doing it.

The other day I was driving in a 30k zone and came upon a young girl walking in the middle of the street. I almost came to a complete stop before she realized her idiocy. She moved over, I gave her a "smarten up or else next time it'll be a Mac that'll ream you" look and drove on. She was wearing earphones.

Are iPods that addictive? The only pods I use is the espresso pods I use for my machine.

Earlier today I was watching a sports show and one of the hosts was chastising his colleague because he actually listens to an entire album on CD as opposed to being modern (by ripping off artists by pirating music) and listening to a hodge-podge of songs.

The guy tried to explain the beauty of listening to an album but it fell on deaf ears.

Then they wonder why albums stink nowadays. We can't be bothered to appreciate that artistic form anymore.

Doug Henning And The Nicomachean Ethics

"For even if the good of the community coincides with that of the individual, it is clearly a greater and more perfect thing to achieve and preserve that of a community; for while it is desirable to secure what is good in the case of an individual, to do so in the case of a peopleor a state is something finer and more sublime."

Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics. The Object of Life - (ii) The Science that studies the supreme good for man is politics. Written some time before they invented the telelphone.

Hint of Hobbes in there, eh?

Yes. Sublime it is.

However, what happens when people among the community involuntarily take part but are forced to for the "greater good?" Who determines what is "good" for such people? In a sense, do we not ration the term "good?" Moreover, what happens if those in charge of supplying the greater good to all are corrupt fools?

If many or some (majority or minority) among a community don't subscribe to this (ie not voluntary), then it's all an illusion if we do it anyway. For we have not really achieved the sublime but the "what ought be is crammed down our throats."



I bet I'm the only blogger to connect Henning (hey, gotta keep my Canadian content up), with Aristotle.

2010-09-29

Where Are You, Canada?

According to blogger tracking, my audience remains largely American. Strangely, Canadian content is actually up this year on this blog yet the percentage of Canadians reading this blog dipped. Where it used to be 60-40% in favor of the U.S. is now, if I'm reading the numbers correctly, 60-20%. Same with my e-Talian blog. Americans make up 43% of my viewership and Canada just 11%.

This despite my being listed on major Canadian (to go along with international ones) blog communities.

Thank you, America. But, Canada. Dudes.

Canadian Posters

I was perusing the international poster gallery - I like looking at prints - and came upon the Canadian page.

Strange how the only two themes are war and nature.

Trudeau Seen As Negative

Another reason why those "greatest Canadian lists" are pointless exercises in "feel good" voo-doo nationalism.

Whatever one may think of him, Pierre Trudeau made Canada interesting.

However, when asked if he had a positive or negative effect, Canadians have flipped flopped. How can he be among the "greatest" Canadians and have a negative impact?

Prostitution Ruling In Ontario

Does this ruling in Ontario about prostitution send the wrong signals?

I'm leaning yes.

2010-09-28

Challenging Students A Lost Art

I might have told this story but I'm gonna tell it again since I hear all sorts of nonsensical new ideas from education ministries across the country. From "no late" policiies for papers to accepting plagiarized works.

It truly is a paradigm shift - into the fucking abyss.

Years ago, in university, I took a European politics class given by a German professor. If you were looking for someone in academia who didn't get the "politically correct" memo it was him. Oh Lord, the things he said.

Adroit, smug and condescending he had little tolerance for utter stupidty and dumbass questions.

I loved him.

*Wipes tear."

His thoughts? He considered Great Britain "the most influential civilization in history." His view of Italy was that it was a "genius society that contributed much and a first rate civilization." He kept silent on Germany - although he wouldn't have been faulted for singing its praises.

Canada? As he spoke, he looked out of the window, arms crossed behind his back, onto a dreary, wintry day and said, "how can a country with so many advantages - including proximity to the U.S. - still not have its own indigenous car industry? If Sweden, where the Industrial Revolution came late - with 8 million lousy people can have TWO great car manufacturers, why shouldn't Canada have one?"

In one comment, he intimated what he thought of us.

Anyway.

According to him, his class was run like they were in Europe: No coddling. So it came to a shocking surprise to students when they read the syllabus. We were responsible for over 40 books! I looked at it and said to myself, "This is new. Talk about attempting to destroy the self-esteem of the collective pampered whimps of Canadian collegiate students." I shrugged my shoulders and resolved myself to take on the challenge.

Not so for others.

You could see the panic in their eyes. Hands went up immediately. "Excuse me, sir. There are 40 books here."

"And?" he replied.

"Could you tell us what to focus on?"

"Ah" giving off the impression he realized the insanity of his syllabus, he said. He stared at her hard waited just enough for her to feel uncomfortable, "All of them."

Another. Not getting the message. "Which texts should we focus on for the exam?"

Same response. Only this time, his glare suggested no one dare try another one.

You see. The problem was university professors had taken to telling their students which chapters of a book to focus on. Which texts to read. Some even encouraged you bring your books during exams.

Students were babies. Most didn't even belong in a history or political class. Out of a class of 40, maybe five could write according to a few professors I spoke to. I know because I was often complimented on my arguments and prose. To me the praise meant little with little context. So my question would always be, "surely there are greater writers than me?" "Yes, but not many. The majority are terrible." Worse, they would be the first ones in the professor's office demanding a better grade for their crappy, poorly written drivel.

Naturally, when confronted with someone like the good German professor, they spazzed. It was hilarious. I considered dropping the course since his reputation for marking was notoriously twisted and I really couldn't afford a drop in GPA. But I was too lazy to do so and I was intrigued by him. The class had dwindled by at least half by next class. If his goal was to weed out the deadweight he succeeded.

However, he stuck by his guns.

I got an 'A' one paper about Richard Wagner. At the time, I found it weird he asked us to write about Wagner in a political science class but the dude was so contradictory and messed up during an important period in European political history, it made perfect sense. Music and politics often went hand in hand in Europe as it did with Verdi in Italy. It was a tough paper to write since he wanted it all in TWO PAGES.

The exam on the other hand. I was plain a mess when it came to multiple choice. It was like I would pysch myself out. Ended up with a 'C' in the overall course.

No matter to me. I took pride in the writing. Not the exams. It didn't help my GPA in the end but I felt I came away with more.

In a way, I did it for me. For all of us. Canada, Canada, Canada!

It's a shame standards continue to fall in education. With social networking eradicating the need for proper grammar, and reading skills down (achieving 100% literacy is one thing; teaching the ability to critically read is quite another. A pitcher's ERA doesn't tell the entire truth) - among other things -  one would think we'd put more pressure on them to challenge themselves with proper rules.

Alas, the theory seems to be design a curriculum and student experience focusing on "the path to least resistance and let's fucking hope it doesn't explode in our faces."

One Ice-Cream Per Detainee

Amusing.

But telling.

More Needless Comments From The President

"Fox News pushes "a point of view that I disagree with. It's a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world,"

Bill Maher and MSNBC and other news organizations (I just heard Chomsky on NPR and nodded my head so much I needed an aspirin) say all kinds of bull shit things too. Your point?

Is he joking? Correlating a news network - however problematic to journalism - to being "destructive for the long-term growth?" One would, as I've said in the past, think there are far more pressing issues facing what could "destroy" America than Fox, no? And what about "long-term growth?" Does he mean GDP? Hormones? Spirituality? Is this not a "scare tactic" on his part? My Lord, the vague illogicalness of his ways!

He may not like it (as many do) but that's subjective. It can't be connected to being "destructive."

I would love some facts here. He's been saying "long-term" a lot lately. Like he's selling mutual funds. "Think long-term" as a zero-sum answer is the call from a mediocre investor. The reality is, the short-term counts as well.

Truth is, he doesn't know if it's true. In order to be somewhat reliable he needs some data to back him up and there's none. "Americans are dumb as bat shit because they watch Fox" is an opinion. Not fact.

One can reasonably ask (whether they agree with him or not), why is he alienating that massive block of people - including Independents who are runnng to the GOP - with puerile comments?

Unless, of course, he knows he can't win those votes. Then he's free to go on and on pissing into the wind.

Stories From The Past

I found out a former university history professor of mine who was a commentator on television and writer for a major paper, will be contributing to one of those hard-left blog masking itself as progressive.

Not surprising given how liberal he was. Without a doubt he was entertaining and fair (I challenged him in a paper and he gave me an A) but his leftist take on everything was lame at times. So I basically evened-out the playing field - with facts. Nonetheless, I learned a lot from him.

I did, however, have a weird encounter with him.

One time, I went to see him after class to ask him where I could find some reliable sources for the internment of Italians during WWII in North America. He asked me if I was Italian. I was taken slightly aback. "I'm Canadian sir." "I know that but what's your heritage?" "My father is Italian Catholic and my mother was born in Montreal of Italian Protestant heritage." I wanted to add, "fucking happy?"

No big deal. Maybe he was just curious.

So what does he tell me?

"I hate Italian food."

That was not exploring who I was, that was an unsolicited statement.

I wasn't about to answer him. Not only did he have a greyish hue (he was Scottish and was proud to remind everyone about it), the guy looked like jaundice had taken over his body. Poor sap. I shuttered for a millisecond thinking about what his diet was like.

I don't think I answered him. I rarely do when someone says something odd. I just move on.   I kept him on track and asked again about the sources. He kindly pointed me into the direction of a historian/writer who is an authority on the subject. Bruno Ramirez remains a part of the Italian community in his studies. His body of work is really impressive.

It was strange given how politically correct liberals are. Yet, in private, he goes out and makes a comment that can be perceived as somewhat insulting. Personally, I didn't (and don't) care (fuck 'em all), I just find it interesting he would tell me that given his position.

2010-09-27

Murder Conviction For Drunk Driver

Something you don't see here in Quebec: Charge a driver for driving under the influence who killed three (including Anaheim Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart)  people with murder. We have guys driving around with multiple driving convictions with so much as a slap on the wrist.

I don't know if the person convicted is an alcoholic but if he was, I'd have a little trouble with chraging him. Alcoholism is a disease.

Does this person deserve 50 years?

Day Care Update

Starting a business is no joke. And for a guy that's been pretty aloof all his life, this can be a bit of a pain in the ass.


The last two weeks I've been searching for the one person to be my Director. For the idea I have, I needed an adaptable and experience individual who constantly considers and accepts new ideas.

There were two things I believed in coming into this adventure and these have been confirmed in my observations with the day care industry. One, today's workers desperately want to know there's room for growth. They want to have a meaningful impact on the day to day activities of a business. They're not satisfied sitting in a cubicle acting like a cog in a crooked wheel. The thing I noticed in speaking with candidates is many - especially the ones coming out of Cegep - are aggressive. They try to keep all the leverage in their favor. They know what they want and know a good thing when they see it.

The other philosophy I learned along the way (in this so-called life of mine that I think little gnomes are actually controlling) is that the strict, rigid corporate hierarchy so common and so many of us have worked under sucks - or at least shouldn't apply in my industry.

It's not designed to extrapolate the best people have to offer. It makes a mess of available talent on a constant basis. It's a system where merit is often a term used to look good in a board room but in practice it's the sycophants who get the promotions. If a company's boss lack leadership qualities and is incapable of identifying true, independent talent, then it's going to reflect in its hierarchy. Boob 1 is followed by Boob 2.

Some of these places remind me of old style sports scouts, commentators and coaches who refuse to change with the times. Largely because they can't rationalize the change unfolding before them. They've learned a certain way and by golly they're going to stick with it. I often hear arrogant hockey commentators talk suspiciously of "outsiders" as if only people who "played" the game can ever understand how to run a hockey operation.

I'm not and probably will never be convinced of that. By that's a different topic altogether.
We seem condemned to setting up businesses in the same, tired structure where the means of communication is usually the first casualty. Walls are put up in an atmosphere that's basically class warfare between all the title holders all the way down to the minions.

If the top guy or gal is an idiot, there's not much hope for the rest. The one thing I always hated about such structures was how poor the lines of communications were. They were so bad they lead to angry, cynical workers. That sometimes manifest itself into high turn over rates.

It seems like a simple problem to fix but it isn't. It's way of thinking. Of being. To be able to willingly communicate. People are threatened when what they thought was correct is in fact wrong. Or that a worker they just hired actually has a superior idea that can change the face of a company. After all, they're all the way down there for a reason, no?

Is it always the case? I reckon that it's not. I'm sure some companies are pretty good at it but I'm gonna guess most aren't. If the government and law enforcement agencies until 9/11 were essentially independent private feifdoms refusing to cooperate with each other (cubicle menality no doubt), it's not that much of a stretch to think the same happens in companies.

Personally, what I'm going to do is create a team where every single person will be integrated into the business until each is able to perform tasks when needed. Like the circulatory system of the human body, there will a constant flow of ideas being exchanged. If an assistant educator discovers a problem, she will be encouraged to speak out. Not keep it to herself.

There will be no walls. There'll be a hierarchy to keep roles specific in a practical manner, but in a theoretical one, it won't exist.

This will accomplish what I mentioned earlier about personal development. Educators who come to my day care will see there's room for growth and that they won't be shut out of the decision making process so common in day cares. This gives them a sense of empowerment.

It doesn't end there. Parents will be encouraged to take part in the decision making process. My director even suggested one sits with us during interviews. After all, it's their children right?

I'm not arrogant to the point where educators and parents will do as I say because I own the school. That's a parochial, nonsensical approach that harks to a Napoleonic Complex. Too many people get into the business to make cash and to thump their chests.

Screw people like that. Never liked them but they always do manage to be featured in the newspaper or magazine. Media loves assholes I reckon. Darn gnomes.

Anyway.

Be professional, diligent, disciplined and all those blah, blahs. Read. Expose yourself to new ideas. Walk around. Talk to people. We're not infallible beings. Be humble. Make jokes. Above all, don't take yourself too seriously.

***

Of course, there's always a danger I flip out and become a pyscho-tyrant. "Why...why are there so many kids in this place!" "It's a day care sir!" "Who said that, who said that? Don't you think I know that!" "But sir..." "You're fired! You're all fired! And take that kid with you. He's funny looking."

Bad Energy

I was thinking of my cousin the other day. He's been missing since 2003. He was caught up in a mess with gangsters and other dregs of society.

My cousin was one of those multi-talented, never sit still, always smiling kind of guy. He was enormously popular. While we didn't mingle with our social affairs, we did play sports together. We'd meet twice a week to play tennis or something. He'd call every other day.

I saw first hand the route he was taking was beginning to head into a dark forest. He had become disillusioned with life. He never could quite go the "normal" route - something he craved for. Yet, some mysterious force was whsipering in his ear to take an alternate route to success.

It was a philosophy his father instilled in his boys. He believed in the theory of kill or be killed - literally. He owned a garage back in the day and he'd purposely put his 13 year-old sons alone at the cash at 2am "to toughen them up." They were held up a few times at gun point. My father was incensed and mortifiied. He knew his brother was fucking his boys up mentally. All he was doing was teaching them to become shysters.

And they did. My cousins always started a conversation with a, "psst."

Going straight was for suckers. That was the message.

What may have worked for two of the boys, didn't work for my cousin. Deep down, he was a soft soul. A good guy. He once told me after a tennis match, he went hunting. He shot a deer. When he walked up to it it was still alive and suffering. His father insisted he kill it. He couldn't do it. The image still haunted him over 20 years later.

He'd call me at my office every day talking to me in code. Trying to figure out how to "be like me." Be like me? Why, how hard can it be? Obviously, he was conflicted and confused? He wanted all the things of a normal life but he wanted more. I tried to help him out but he'd always close by saying, "you're wet behind the ears."

I don't know the details of exactly how he got himself in a jam but there was help. He chose to do it himself. He did go to my other uncle for help, but he's a control-freak jerk-off and turned him away. Why, I cannot say. Oddly, he avoided coming to my family, the straight shooters, for help. My father says he would have helped him. Apparently, he needed $50 000 dollars.

That's never a good thing. Unless you're opening a day care.

I still remember the day he went missing. It was a couple of days after my knee surgery. I don't know how or why, I got up and walked to my balcony and looked up at the sky. My brother in law was fixing a chair for me. "It looks and smells funny out there. Strange energy." "Looks fine to me," he responded. "Don't forget to Scotch-Guard it, Plato," I replied.

That night, I got a call from his wife, my sister, "he's missing."

I knew something was adrift.

He gambled with the wrong crowd to achieve a life he was not certain about. His upbringing almost certainly played a part.

Everyone liked my cousin. My buddies still nod their head each time we talk about him. My wife and brother-in-law (her brother) too. They all knew. What, I'm not sure.

Seven years later his body is still out there. No closure for an aimless soul.

2010-09-26

Veterans Deserve Better

It's a bloody national disgrace we have veterans in the streets in the first place. Once the return from war they lack any skills or support to reintegrate. We ask them to serve and die but we don't have the decency to at least be ready for them when they return?

Effen disgrace.

A joke.

Arpaio's Methods Draw Both Praise And Ire

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is fast becoming a mythical law enforcement figure.

It's interesting to see this wave of tough on crime sweeping Canada too.

Calabrian Mob In Toronto

Italy comes after Toronto 'Ndregheta.

Straight To The Point



Screw you (not you Ginx) if you're the type that thinks posting things questioning Obama is racist.

It pisses me off. Not in the context of American politics but because it's a lazy-ass, full of shit charge to make against people.

Am I the only one who thinks his answer likely disappointed her? "We're on the right track" is vague at best.

Hayek Rebranded Swiss Movement

Nicolas Hayek, the man behind Swatch watches, died back in June.

I've owned a couple of funky Swatches in my day. Actually, still have one.

2010-09-25

They All Inherit Something

I don't get politicians who complain when they inherit a bad economy. They don't complain if they inherit a good one though. Of course.

According to Obama and Democrats, it's a fait accompli they inherited a recession caused by the Bush administration. The only problem with this argument is Bush too said he inherited a recession.

Little Shop Of Horrors

Little Shop Of Horrors (1960). Jack Nicholson in the clip here:





Yes. I laughed during this movie.

Money For Mental Illness

Mental illness is one of those really, really tricky issues. It's very hard to determine if someone is legitimately stricken with, say, depression and who is severely discouraged. Heck, sometimes I wonder if cynics are depressed. In any event, corporations are leading the way with mental illness initiatives and the government is finally slowly getting around to it. It's a serious issue as it costs the Canadian economy $51 billion a year.

Why, just the other day, the lady who assumed my small business loan file suddenly left because of anxiety issues - of course, I had to call to find out what was happening with my file.

Anyway.

It's not like I'm alien to the problem. My family on my father's side has a long history of mental illness including bi-polar disorder, depression and autism. I've seen how much of a hard time doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists had nailing down what family members really had. As for those in the old country, it's not like people were aware of these sorts of things back in 1946. Same story here in North America. We just gave people lobotomy's. Further back in our history you were declared possessed. The screening process for mental illness is young relative to man's history.

They say mental illness is on the rise.

Is it? 

Some doctors like Thomas Szasz believe it's merely a psychiatric construct.

From wiki:

"...Szasz says that what psychiatrists label mental illness is in fact nothing more than a deviation from the consensus reality or common morality..."

2010-09-23

American Tolerance

It's funny. It's often reported and suggested America is a deeply divided, divided and even xenophobic society. Although I'd like to know exactly what tools are used to measure xenophobia. Xenophobia exists everywhere. Even here in Quebec. To what degree and extent is the question.

The perception is that Europe is far more civil and at peace than America.

Personally, from my observations, conversations and travels in Europe, I think the opposite is true. Europe has serious issues. The nationalist under current is never too far off the surface.

I remember after the murder of Theo Van Gogh how the Dutch reacted by burning down hundreds of Mosques. Holland! Progressive, careful, quiet, soccer mad Holland! Contrast this to 9/11, when NO Mosque burnings and very little (if any) vigilante retribution took place.

In other words, we under estimate American tolerance and over estimate Europe's.

Demented Statistic

Dementia on the rise.

From link:

"If dementia care were a country, it would be the world's 18th largest economy," the report said. "If it were a company, it would be the world's largest by annual revenue, exceeding Wal-Mart and Exxon Mobil."

2010-09-22

LeDain Drug Inquiry's Sensible Drug Policies Were Ignored

While the report conducted between 1969-72 didn't seek to legalize drugs citing not enough was known of its long-term effects, it did assert users should not be jailed. It asked fo it be removed from the Narcotic Control Act and placed under the Food and Drug Act.

The hearings were attended by John Lennon.

Alas, the Federal government did not act on its enlightened suggestions.

The Strange Suicide of E. Herbert Newman

Newman was the target of the communist witch hunt by the U.S. Senate Committee. He committed suicide in Egypt in 1957.

The Hardy Boys

Born inWhitby, Ontario, Leslie McFarlane was the man behind The Hardy Boys. He did so under the pen name of Franklin W. Dixon.

I used to love reading those stories.



Hockey fans should be familiar with Leslie's son Brian McFarlane who was a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada for, oh, I'm guessing about 30 years. I remember him and Dave Hodge back in the 1980s.

Differing Tax Takes

Ginx speaks highly of this strategy.

Then again, there are other opinions.

I love the Andex Chart.

2010-09-21

Life's Language Turns

I grew up in what was an upper-middle class French-Canadian neighborhood with large pockets of English speaking Italians. My school friends were Italians but my street pals were French. We all converged on various organized sports. In my case, it was soccer, pick-up baseball and of course hockey (and a bunch of other sports to name here).

I was exposed to French everyday and if I may say so myself, I was decently fluid. My grammar in school, on the other hand, was terrible. Largely because I didn't care to study. French is a tough language with all its rules and exceptions. I was too daft to see the benefits of studying properly. In my mind, I spoke it and that was good enough. Dumbass.

Then, I hit university and suddenly my exposure to French dwindled. It became non-existant when I went to work for the bank on the West Island of Montreal after graduation where all the "square heads" (English) live. For ten more years I didn't have to converse much in French safe for a few people here and there.

Naturally, while we still lived in areas where French was predominant it was largely restricted to alls and restaurants and speaking with neighbours, I lost an edge. I keep in touch with some pals from the street but nearly as much as I should.

Now, with my day care, I'm back in the middle of the French mileu. Everything is done in French and quite frankly, this time around, I'm embracing it. Already, I see it improving. I can easily sit back and wish things were done in my language but that's not the case. I have to be pragmatic. If I want that, I'll just buy a house in Ontario or Vermont.

For now, I'm challenging myself and so far so good. There's room for improvement. Long gone are the days when my French neighbours would say, "my God you're French is impeccable! You speak three languages! C'est formidable!"

The writing part, however, I fear, is too late. I can write but not on a professional level.

The Sweater

Classic piece of Canadiana and Quebec culture. Hockey crazed lunatics and the Montreal Canadiens:

Taxes A Fact Of Life But Citizens Have A Right To Question Them

It's not bad to question authority and part of authority entails collecting taxes. As citizens, it is our duty, in turn, to ensure the state doesn't squander our money.

I don't accept and outright reject people who assert it's "whining." I call it responsible citizenry. I don't advocate "no taxes" (although I do consider money confiscated by the state that is subsequently squandered to be immoral since I didn't consent to them blowing it). I demand the state spends it wisely.

Simple.

I'm glad organizations like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation exist or else we'd be left with the assumption all taxes are fair and just.

Carolla On Reason

I love rants. It's the stuff of great entertainment and I've been known to pull a few myself much along the lines seen here.

And I do the same thing. I don't sit at a fucking red light in the middle of the night like a shithead sitting duck insanely waiting for a drunken psyhco sot retard who didn't get the MADD message to crash into my car sending me into the McDonald's (or Wendy's) across the street.

Question

Would you hire someone who committed a crime and subsequently did their time and is looking to honestly reintegrate into the fabric of our society?

I know there are a lot of "depends" in there but, as a general value, would you?

I would.

We expect felons to pay their debt and dues and hope they rehabilitate. Do we not bear a little responsibility to make the rehab a success? I recognize it's easy to assert they committed a crime of their own free will (assuming of course they weren't coerced into it) and that it's not our problem to help out but surely we'd be all the better for it if we considered it?

2010-09-20

Can The Party Last?

Ok. I ask you right here, right now. What does the future hold for the Tea Party? One hit wonders or is there something deeper?

Ready.

Set.

Go.

2010-09-19

Struggles For Tim Hortons

Great business article on Tim Hortons.

Not that I'm much of a doughnut eater, I've never been much of a fan. I used to prefer Dunkin' Donuts before they were pushed out of the market without much of a fight. Pussies.

Where possible, I like going to a bakery that makes its own do-nuts daily.

As for their coffee. I don't normally question people's personal tastes but you seriously have never had real, substantial coffee if you tolerate that crap. Awful.

I tried it once to see what the fuss was all about. One sip later it was in the trash.

And their commercials are overly cheesey or politically correct.

Tim Hortons, which has moved away from its original strategy it sounds like, is embedded in the day to day activities of Canadians and whenever people have to meet for a quick discussion, that's where they head. I know I've been doing it for my day care. I order camomile.

Tailgate Legend Hassled

Permits are a RACKET. They're not about keeping us safe or anything like that. They're a means of control and power.

2010-09-18

Random TV Land Thoughts

Ever notice how extras or secondary actors in old movies seem to end up on Law & Order?

Speaking of TV, was thinking about Happy Days, and it occured to me at one point, when Richie was away in the military, Fonzie was no longer the ruffian greaser but a responsible businessman.

What was the point of that? They should have killed him off jumping over a shark or something.

Gloria

Christmas Eve 1995 we was robbed. Definitely an inside job and if I ever find out who did it...

Anyway. They stole 852 of my cd's. Among them was Alive! She cried by The Doors. My mother bought it as a Christmas gift , ironically, a few years before. Of course, the 1960s and part of the 70s (except for my birth) past my mother as she had no idea the content in the album was pretty sexually graphic. One can say she was not paying attention. Her ignorance was my gain. It quickly became one of my preferred albums with a horny version of Gloria and excellent live rendition of Moonlight Drive.

Turns out, when I tried to buy the CD with the insurance check, it was out of print and if memory serves me correctly, the chap at the record store who helped try to track it down told me the only chance I had to get a copy was in Japan.

I liked The Doors but not enough to fly to Tokyo.

I eventually found a copy of the album albeit on vinyl in a remote record shop in downtown Montreal.

 

Gloria is an epic song. One that every band or singer in the whole wide world covers as a rite of passage of sort. Even punks like Patti Smith went for it:



Of course, it all started with Van Morrison Featuring Them:



Yeah.

The Great Disturbance And Acadian Renaissance

They refused allegiance to the British (King George II) and paid a heavy price for it.





Their subsequent forced migration changed the North American cultural landscape forever when they became Cajuns.

Race And Car Dealerships

I'm beginning to wonder if Obama speaks only to self-hating Americans with a guilt complex out to refashion its history.

His actions (apologizing to nations for past American behaviour for example) and policies (well, read the report from the Special Inspector General examining TARP) are beginning to reflect this. When a shill for anything liberal like Eleanor Clift agrees he's engaging in redistribution policies, you know there's something to the charge.

Anyway.

If true, and I can't see why it isn't, this is sad. If 2000 dealerships were shut down for simply not being owned by minorities and women, then it's no surprise the economy is where it's at. That's a lot of layoffs.

President Obama should be reminded he represents all Americans.

If one is truly about fairness and justice, I can't see how they can support or defend the Democrats come November.

2010-09-17

Friday Cartoons

Once upon a time our borders were protected by men of high courage and repute.

2010-09-16

Ironic Kids

According to a study conducted by the Universite de Montreal (with some help from a researcher from Concordia University), children can actually understand and even use irony.

From Science Daily:

"Overall, hyperbole and sarcasm were most often used during positive interactions with children, while euphemisms and rhetorical questions were mostly used in situations of conflict. Also, mothers and fathers did not use irony in the same way. Mothers were more inclined to use rhetorical questions and fathers preferred sarcasm.



"Children's understanding of complex communication is more sophisticated than we believed in the past," says Alexander. "If parents are conscious that by age four a child can take a remark literally, especially in situations of conflict, using appropriate language can help defuse a potentially explosive situation."

For the record, my father spoke (growing up) in riddles and my mother has a biting sarcastic edge.

Tea Party

National Journal covers The Tea Party here. Interesting report.

Palm Oil

I've always read the ingredients of foods I buy. In the past, I tended to be more lenient with junk food but less so now.

Especially when I don't understand certain terms like "modified palm oil." Speaking of which, there's debate as to whether palm oil is bad for us or not. I would lean on the bad side because they're usually found in processed junk food. Palm oil is not kernel oil. Palm oil comes from the flesh of the fruit in the palm tree whereas kernel oil derives from the seed itself. Extracting kernel oil sounds like a complicated process. Palm oil is high in saturated fat; in the neighborhood of 50%. Kernel oil is much higher closer to 80% and possesses trans fat.

In other words, be conscious of what you're eating. You may want to be diligent on how much of this stuff you tolerate. Personally, ONE item in my house contains palm oil and that's Nutella and I eat that once every 10 days or so.

Neat video on palm oil. I'm guessing "fractionated palm oil" is the same as "modified." Either way, they don't inspire much confidence:

GOP Courgars

Is it me or a whole new crop of GOP conservative women (in some cases hot conservative women) taking over the body politic in the U.S.?

Of course, according to leftis sites, these women are all deranged.

You mean, they're hot and deranged?

Sweet.

***

Speaking of the GOP, this Obama bashing is ridiculous. Strategically, it's a game they can't win in any way. Why put themselves in a position where the other side can easily dismiss their claims as "crazy?"

They should just take this lucky break (Obama's faltering popularity) and stick with the issues and policies. Going after him because he's a "Muslim socialist born in Kenya" is idiotic.

2010-09-15

Creepy Disturbing

It was a matter of time before some depraved asshole would create such a violent game.

The game is based on the murderous rampage at Dawson College (a CEGEP I attended for one term) a couple of years back.

We're growing more and more densensitized to one another now.

This needs to be nipped in the bud immediately or before you know it, like porn, it becomes mainstream. Not sure how to do this but one thing is for sure, a return to parental accountability and morality would be a good start.

I go to Starbucks every other day. One of the young "baristas" has been there since I've been going there for the better of four years now. Each time, I swear, I've seen her come into work or go on her break her face is buried in her phone texting. I see her leave a parking lot with her head down. I see her on a couch with her head down. I've even seen her go make a deposit for Starbucks at the bank, you guessed it, with her face buried in that effen thing.

I'm not sure what the fallout for us as a species will be but I'm wondering if not engaging people eye to eye in our daily activities is progress as a civilization.

War Measures Act

A remarkable period in Canadian and Quebec history. A dark one at that. Notice the journalist taking the PM to task. Completely off the cuff. Great, great stuff.

It closes with Trudeau's "just watch me" line.

Imagine this sort of language today. And he was a Liberal!

Cicero

A most complex individual, Cicero is one of the most pivotal figures in the development of Western culture and politics.

Everyone of note, from the Founding Fathers, Renaissance Humanists, French Revolutionaries etc., were nourished with his writings.

I read the book by Anthony Everitt. Superbly fascinating. Perfect for beginners, it's a lucid, enlightening narrative into the world the Roman Republic and Empire and how Cicero fit into it. He are some reviews.

When Bed Bugs Attack

Don't let the bed bugs bite.

How do you suggest I prevent that while I sleep, eh, genius?

How will Homeland Security fight them?

2010-09-14

Give Families The Money

Just thought about something.

The government spends about $38-40 per day for their $7 dollar a day dare care service. In other words, it costs $45 a day to operate a day care in reality - I'm charging $40 so I'm in the ball park with no subsidy. People can receive a tax credit so in a way we're still subsidized.

Anyway.

It occured to me. Wouldn't it serve families (and society at large) better to send a $45 dollar check per day to keep mothers (or fathers) home to raise their children? Isn't the home the best "day care?"

Heaven forbid you give individuals money in their hands.

But we like to spend on lavish programs run by the state. Sorta like how we wasted $125 million big ones on "improving self-esteem" in hopes of stemming the high drop out rates.

High drop rates are at an all-time high despite its good but misdirected intentions.

 

Bill C-470

Bill introducing salary caps for charities.

Parent's Youth Not Enough To Improve Race Relations With Police

With the new polic chief Marc Parent taking over, I thought about Anthony Griffin and police race relations. Because Parent is young at 46, people are hoping he'll improve the mistrust between minority groups and the police. Don't hold your breath. See, the problem isn't fixing "procedures." It's about educating your police force. Or better yet, ensuring you train an enlightened police force as opposed to just giving them technical training. Years ago, my cousin's friend was a cop and we'd hang out. He'd be candid and frank with us that cops were  indeed racist. Montreal has a lot of work to do and I'm not convinced the commitment is there.

I still hear stories about cops telling Quebecers of non-Francophone background telling them "to go back where they come from." That shit shouldn't happen at all. Law enforcement is big on zero tolerance when it suits them but what about zero tolerance in circumstances when they mistreat the public?

I love this video. It's two guys driving around filming things for some reason. They come across a cop who enters his car and tries to gain access onto the street without his flasher. The driver of the car says, "not without your flasher" they say in French. But the cop makes his own laws and cuts in anyway. Further up, he shows more of his selfish and imprudent driving abilities to which the kids in the car respond in French, "he's fucking nuts."

2010-09-13

Classic

Seriously. You're a fool if you bought into Castro.

Harsh? Absolutely.

And deserved.

In the 1950s, Cuba went one way and Asia the other. The results speak for themselves.

What The Young Are Watching

Not sure if this is a good thing.

Stewart and Colbert are funny and all...but...it's still comedy.

Then again, people will say CNN, MSNBC and Fox are comedies now.

Kids have no interest in classical education of any kind so let them further turn their minds into senseless mush. If they think Stewart and Colbert are trusted sources of interpreting news so be it.

2010-09-12

Who Americans Prefer To Defend

Phew.

Canada tops the list.

I lay awake each night wondering who will come in and help up the Dene when Norway attacks.

In fact, I'm writing a book called "When Norway Attacks: Sharpen Your Spoons."

2010-09-11

Book Plug: Mercury Falls

Just finished reading - on Kindle - Mercury Falls by author Robert Kroese.

Know what?

It was a fun read. I encourage you - and you - to check it out and give it a whirl. Buy it on kindle or get the book. I don't care none.

9/11

Lost Sale

Hey, Marche du Store in Laval. Thanks to your little "ici on commerce en Francais" sticker on your little door, I took my business elsewhere.

I plopped down $500 smackeroos on other place of business who had absolutely no qualms about speaking the evil English language. That's 500 less on your bottom line.

Your loss.

As you were...

2010-09-10

Either You Believe In Freedom Of Speech...

Or you don't.

A lot of people are happy the book burning of the Koran organized by an obscure pastor won't happen. That the reaction was strong among blogs is one thing but once again the U.S. administration saw fit, in its infinite wisdom, to comment on it. I don't recall those who defend Islam ever coming to the defense of when Christian symbols are mistreated under the guise of "art" in some cases and "freedom of speech." You want a gay nativity scene? You got it! You want to make tasteless jokes about Jesus Christ! You want to eliminate saying 'Merry Christmas?' You got it! Let's step on the faces of these lousy Crishtins! Jesus wasn't even born on Decemeber 25! We bring secular light to their ignorance! You want to bash Judaism! No problem! We need the jokes.

But don't you dare attack Islam. Don't you know these people are insane? By doing it, it will endanger our troops (as if the insane attacks about Bush being a murderer was any better)! Why, you can't be this daft can you?

Not only do we have double-standards at work here but specious logic to go along with it.

Man, some commentators like Pat Buchanan and Vice-pres Joe Biden were calling for U.S. Marshalls to be dispatched? Are you kidding me? In case you haven't noticed, the United States has waaaayyy more serious problems to attend to. I don't know, like, the economy to cite one precious pressing example?

To me, this is more retarded than the pastor himself. They claim by attacking Afghanistan and intervening in wars of aggression you only galvanize people to join terrorist organizations. Fair enough. So, how is giving this pastor any attention by essentially declaring war on the moron any different? After all, it can spark a torch under the ass of some other nut job if we continue the logic.

The guy should have been ignored outright. The majority of Americans would have. Instead, the Americans took a non-issue and turned into something bigger as we did with the silly long-form census debate.

So much for freedom of speech.

We pick and choose when we tolerate it. And that's not good enough for me.

You Break The Law...

You do the time.

So the saying goes.

Enter Marc Emery - the Prince of Pot - who was sentenced to five years in jail for selling marijuana seeds. Now Canadians are mobilizing to repatriate him.

I don't see why the government should.

I have a family member (through marriage) doing 10 years in the States for being stupid enough to be a pawn in a con game in the U.S. Guess what? Prosecutors knew he was a small fish but the had to nab someone since the main players escaped in time. It sucks but too bad. You wanted to make a fast buck? Scamming sharks fed off your greed and you got caught.


No matter where you stand on this issue, and I tend to stand closer in line with Emery, if you break the laws of any land, you must do the time. Emery knew full well what he was doing was illegal in a country that takes drug issues very seriously. It's irrelevant if you feel it's misguided. Or, in the case of Emery, trying to make a point. Stand by your convictions and do the time if you believe in your cause.

To his credit Emery said:

In a statement from Emery quoted by The Globe and Mail, he said it was "arrogant" to defy U.S. law.



"My zealous pursuit of what may be an honourable goal of repeal of a bad law blinded me from recognizing that my example of flouting the law is a bad example to set for others," Emery's statement reads.


"I promise to never advocate civil disobedience, or condone civil disobedience, or ever flout Canadian or U.S. laws ever again."


Emery believes in his cause. Good for him. Just don't ask me to ask the government to repatriate him on his behalf for knowingly breaking laws in a foreign country.

Value Of Laws Of Coercion

In a previous discussion with the disruptive-deist Ginx (ahem), he and an article I linked too (which I still think he didn't read), both brought up in debate a relevant point about laws of coercion. Specifically how there are many laws that are in fact rarely if ever enforced; thus leading to the conclusion any questioning of its wisdom and authority is or should be muted.

I remain skeptical of this claim.

That laws that threaten citizens with fines and jail time if they don't comply with them, aren't enforced doesn't mean we should accept them no matter the perceived or literal value of the cause. In the case of the mandatory long-form census (the root of the debate) very few people are fined and still less thrown in prison.

While this should undoubtedly be kept in mind in building a measured argument against it, my question is why have it all? If our state is so enlightened and is in firm belief of their work, why must it collect what it must under the threat of coercion? Does it not trust its own citizens?

Why would a citizen be willing to be exposed to being arbitrarily singled out by a possibly vindictive or whimsical government out to make an example of someone? For we know it can happen, right?

The mere fact the government is willing, to create such a law as "deterrent" for people thinking in not complying with its designs, is a valid reason to question its motives and decisions to do so.

Charitable Nations

Yet another study covering charity. Until now, the most widely used measure was "foreign aid per capita" in which the U.S. and Canada don't do so well.

The World Giving Index seems to include more "intangible" criteria such as "have you helped someone out this year." Although it's not clear if punching someone off the side of the head to knock bad sense out of them qualifies. I think it should.

In this index, North America does really well. If you country scored higher than 6.0 congratulations.You do your bit in making this place that much more kinder, gentler and digestable.

I'm sure criticism about the methodolgy will follow soon enough.

Put The Money Elsewhere

I never quite understood how politicians and municipalities get hoodwinked into helping to finance sports arenas and stadiums to which the owners reap and keep all profits. The only stipend left for the state and its citizens is in some "voo-doo-vague" belief that someway having a sports team is great for the local economy.

Personally, I don't think sports teams are that much of a boon to an economy. Let me rephrase. I don't think the return of that promise justifies sinking hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars into a sports team. If the government went into it as a partner with an equity stake and dividend payments and what-not, then it would make some sense. But to give an owner, say, $100 million to build an arena (even with the taxes they would collect) is a raw deal for them.

I'm sure there are studies looking into sports teams in local economies and I'm guessing it's not as amazing as its painted. The main advantage of a sports team is the psychological aspect of having a sports franchise. In some ways, in can unite people in a city. The other is the free tourism publicity. If you're part of a 30-team league you're exposed to not just 29 teams but 29 other cities filled with citizens itching (in good times) to spend their money in your city.

Again, I don't know if any of this would cover the initial outlay sunk in building a sports facility.

I bring this up because people are going goo-goo-gaa-gaa at the possible return of the NHL to Quebec City. I think it's great economic conditions are allowing this to happen. However, it won't happen unless a new $450 million arena will be built of which the provincial and (heaven knows) the federal government will kick in $180 of it. Around those amounts anyway.

I'm a sports junkie but I don't think this is proper use of public funds. Sorry. Why should the owner of a hockey team get this sort of sweet deal? What's in it for the entire country given part of it is funded by it? That we get a team based in Quebec as it "rightfully" should? Please. We've gotten along just fine without one. Because it will enhance Quebec's economy? As I stated above, not so sure about that. And by how much will it? 41 games plus playoffs (if you get there) seems like a limited deal to me.

I would much rather see the government sink the money in amateur sports. Build on what happened in Vancouver. Don't sit on it and let it go to waste in typical Canadian fashion. Or put it in tennis, basketball and soccer - global sports, in which Canada inexcusably often falters in, that command far higher audiences.

If not in sports, then how about putting it areas of social issues? $180 million is a lot of money and with Quebec's abysmal education record and increasing health care costs, seems to me these should take priority.

Education and health care we all benefit from. When I go into a hospital and I'm told there's one doctor on call because of budget cuts, it's a problem in my eyes. If our high school drop rates are exploding and people still can't string a sentence together in University, it's a problem to me.

A niche few benefit from whatever advantages a sports team brings.

London Olympics

Subliminal message about Lisa Simpson?

It does look like Lisa is performing a lewd, although perfectly natural, act in public. I think I'm gonna stop here.

2010-09-09

Burn, Baby, Burn

Is there a difference between burning the Koran and the American flag?

Just asking.

Box Of Chocolates

In a box of chocolate, why must they put white ones in there?

I hate white peo...chocolate.

Health Care: An Inexact Emotional Science

Ok. After all the debating and squabbling about North American health care systems, here's what I perceive to be difference between the two countries: One is controlled by insurance companies who ration from the private side (even though HMC's exist) and the other is decided by bureaucrats (even though semi-private clinics and increasingly private ones exist) who ration from the public side. Neither is compassionate (although the common belief is since we offer to one and all, we're progressive and compassionate. But as we now see, it's not that simple) in its orientation but rather a cost-centric system. And this is just plain a reality since health care is a service someone has to pay for.

Pick your poison.

In Canada, for its part, because it's essentially a public monopoly, the unions hold a disproportionate amount of power. This affects our cost structure. I don't know how much this impacted the short staff crisis we're currently witnessing. We've been cutting doctors and nurses at an alarming rate.This, in turn, leads to horrific wait times.

We're also told or, worse, assume, decisions are based on empirical evidence by whoever makes these decisions.  And how to begin that! It's filled with so many contradictions (where emotions and science collide) at this point good luck explaining it to the voting public.

The truth is, health, as I've stated many times, is an economic and political issue now. More and more, we base our decisions on what the bottom line is and how many votes it'll garner. Hence, why so many head-scratching decisions that don't necessarily reflect the needs of both health care providers and staff and patients alike.

We have the money we're told. Obviously, it's the management then the problem, no?

I'm ok with absolute private hospitals for, if anything, it takes those of us who can afford it away from the over-stressed public option. If I take my kid, for simplicity sake, to a private doctor for, say, an ear ache, that's one less person with a minor issue in the public line for a kid who has a serious issue like a broken arm or femur. So I welcome the government's pragmatic decision to allow me that option.

Some will counter that this will ultimately lead to the destuction of the public system. How? Not everyone can afford to spend $300 an hour for a visit. To me, if anything, it can only help it. This is the same type of specious logic as claiming Obamacare will destroy American health care despite legitimate concerns. Runaway costs are far more dangerous to the public system than a minority of people heading into the private system. There's little logic in preventing this option.

Who's getting bang for buck? I think it's impossible to tell really. And comparing health care systems around the world tells us little since it very much reflects the intricate and unique needs of different societies.

There are no universal truths or magic potions to a perfect system.

2010-09-08

Poverty In Canada

Great resource on poverty and living standards in Canada.

Democratic Deficit

I've been reading about Canada's democratic deficit for years.

Coureurs De Bois

They did this so I could blog.

Onto Bigger Matters

I think people who defend the coercion aspect of the long-form census with the usual anti-Harper hysterics are missing the point. Or at least, aren't trying to question it. Talk about assuming all is well. I thought we were told to question things.

Alternate, reasonable take on the long-form census. Love the links too. 21 000 Jedi Knights in Canada? Who knew? A while ago I posted that some sources had it around 55 000. Either way, it's funny.

Beats the crap coming out of the press. In fact, publications such as these (who happen to be libertarian and classical liberal) at least stay clear of the present narrative in the mainstream. Notice the lousy, typical, hyper quotes from our "intellectuals." Right away the doofuses readily assume anyone who opposes state coercion is a "right-wing, ultra-conservative, meanie."

Lame.

Lame.

***

Another, albeit more strict, take:

"Fast-forward 350 years, and who do we hear denouncing the Conservative government’s decision to scrap the mandatory long-form questionnaire of the census? All those whose job it is to plan and manage society’s development. There was only one such bureaucrat in the 1660s, but today there are hundreds of thousands of them in Canada, at all levels of government and even beyond, in all the parasitic “private” organizations and professional fields that depend on government to conduct their business."

Moonstruck Final Scene

I didn't watch 'Moonstruck' when it came out. Nope. Instead, I watched it for the first time last year on Movietime under the awful spell of a bad cold. You know, it really was a fine flick. Loved the ending. Sometimes, it's all about the ending and this final scene sparkles.



I think I'm gonna change the name of this blog to 'Blogstruck.'

Post This

My wife, the Significant One, the gal who determines many leisure activities, is one of those people who leaves post-it notes all over the house. Why, even as we speak the little, quaint country black board is splashed with, "Have a good day, love mommy!" I know. Nauseating. I want to draw a falling angel decapitating human heads as he descends into hell.

But I can't draw. It's all for the better or else my daughter would be in and out of psychiatric wards for the rest of her life.

In the past, she'd leave a trail of post-its with some cute message. At one point it was like I was being stalked.

"Commentator?"
"Why do you smell like coconut-mango-ginger ale?"
"Can I talk to you?"
"We're talking now."
"No we're not."
"Hey, look at this mushroom. It looks like two people embraced in a sexual position."
"How come you don't respond to my post-its?"
"Uh, 'cuz, like, it's retarded?"
"It's my sign of affection for you."
"Bend over,I'll show you affection."
"We never talk properly! You're impossible!"
"I'm impossible. Take a look around the house. Does it strike you as normal I still haven't removed all the post-its you leave behind?"
"My parents did that all the time.My father would leave my mother's notes up for days!"
"Yeah, I know. I took one down."
"What?"
"Oh please. "Love you, take out the chicken, chicky? I couldn't eat anymore at your parent's house"
"Is that why you stopped coming?"
"Post-its on the faucets. Post-its in the vestibule. Post-its on the grill. I couldn't take it anymore. Your family's civility was beginning to creep me out."
"Oh, like your family is a model."
"Never said that."
"You guys don't even look at one another and then either begin to argue of engage in endless comedy routines."
"Don't say you didn't like the 'Cooking with Liberace from the grave' routine."
"The first time I sat at your table your brother walked in after waking up, asked for breakfast, sat down and waited five minutes before asking, "who's she?"
"Well, you were a stranger. I brought home many girls. To him you may have just been another Commenator groupie."
"Point is you don't know how to express affection."
"Infection?"
"Affection!"
"Bend over..."
"I know, I know. Forget it. I knew this was a mistake?"
"It's what my mother says all the time. Each and every day."
"I know. She tells me too. And I'm beginning to agree with her. It becomes a full time job defending you."
"If you take me to court I want to go on People's Court. I think I can work Judge Milian."
"I have to go buy rice milk."
"Where's the post-it?"
"Good-bye. And tonight...play by yourself!"

*Slams door*

"She'll come back."

2010-09-07

Who Should Take Care Of The Meek?

To be honest, because I tend to lie an awful lot, I'm not surprised to find that conservatives tend to give more than liberals. I wouldn't be further surprised to find out if the same holds true in Canada.

The reason I didn't get too excited is because the left simply believes the state should take care of people. Conservatives think it should come straight from the community.

Conservatives are not mean - still waiting for that study. They just have a different view on how to take care of their fellow man.

It Had To Be Quebec

I'm not surprised Quebec beat, say, Alberta to the Tea Party punch. Quebec is the most interesting political arena in Canada.

"Quebec has fallen behind,” says Guillaume Leduc, “with a much higher debt than other provinces, an enormous civil service, too many subsidies to business. Quebec must give confidence back to its citizens and take its hand out of their pockets.”

The problem is, how (and it's music to my ears for sure) do they intend to do this? Merely "reducing" the government isn't going to magically achieve this object.

Meh.

I repeat: Don't copy the U.S. model! Adjust the name if you must!

Cutting Air Would Be Easier

The Conservatives are trying. They're trying to cut where they could but at every turn there's resistance. I mean, when people go ape-shit over the suggestion to make part of the census voluntary, you know you have no hope to cut, say, subsidizing all political parties. Or cutting irrelevant arts programs (relax, notice I said "irrelevant" not all). Or putting a bullet in the head of the gun registry.

The thing is, these things become industries unto themselves. Therefore cutting them makes it a delicate issue.

How about this? How about moving forward we stop creating and expanding government agencies in an effort to save the human race from itself? Maybe then we won't waste money on programs gone wild in Daytona Beach.

It's 1599 All Over

Quran burning?

These people are whacked.

Obama Netting Jobs

In the "see, it's not my fault" files:

Robert Shapiro did some number checking on Unemployment in the USA.

I'm not so sure rates of employment begin and end with political parties per se.

Random Coincidental Lives

I went to pay my driver's registration earlier today (%$$%&#@). As I stood in line waiting to get a number, I remembered the last time I was there and noticed my brother's boyhood buddy at the back of the line. He almost lost his life once (as opposed to two or three times) after being hit by a car while cycling on the country roads we used to ride on.

Hardly the type to scream past people's heads, "hiya doin'!" I chose to instead let the angels decide if it was meant for us to speak. Turned out it wasn't.

On we went with our lives.

Now that I think of it as I write this, it reminds me of a sad story from years back. I went to visit a friend at a college he was attending. As we walked its academic halls we saw a friend (more like an acquaintance we were friendly with) we went to high school with at the other end. "Should we go over and say hello?" one of us asked. I can't remember which one of us did. "Another time" was the reply.

Another time never came. That same night she was killed in a car accident. The driver attempted to avoid a dog and swerved out of control hitting poles and cars sending her unbuckled body through the windshield. Horrific. Tragic.

Assessing the approximate wait time, I looked ahead. I thought to myself what were the odds I'd see my brother's friend again? Here. What were the odds? Better than the Orioles winning the NL East for the next five years I bet.

Turns odd pretty good. I spotted him. Only this time he was way ahead. Again, I chose to let the angels determine our paths. Even if I couldm there was no way to reach him. I was surrounded by aliens masquerading as humans. Out he went. As if nothing happened.

We never learn.

To be honest, it would have been awkward to speak to him as he left while I wallowed in line. We hadn't seen each other in years. So many thoughts, questions and to be expressed and asked.

I didn't interfere with fate.

Who knows what's in store in our lives beyond different intersecting, random, coincidental points?

2010-09-06

Bad Television

Can anyone name me a more cynical and useless piece of trivial trite than the show "Party Mamas?" And that's saying a lot given it has plently of crappy competition.

I'm not one of those people who shit on what's on TV. I happen to think programming has never been better given the choice out there. For every scap garbage hoisted upon the cattle there's a super show to offset it.

But there's no way to defend PM on any level.

None.

I'm not listening...la,la,la,la.

Light Sentence For Murder

Here, we tend to put killers away for life. In some parts of this contitent, we do much more than that through capital punishment.

In Europe, it's a little different. As some of you may recall, my cousin was murdered by her ex-husband - if front of their children - in Italy a couple of years ago. He was sentenced to a meager 13 years. When I expressed shock to my cousin - her brother - he reacted in stoic fashion. "It's how things are done there. Our prisons are too filled."

Still.

13 years?

Looking For Dark Matter

Canadian scientists look for dark matter in a mine.

I say come here and you'll find all the dark matter you need.

Seriously, kids. A great read.

Asteroids Are-A-Comin'

Actually, anyone who watches superhero cartoons or comics knows a gazillion asteroids hurl themselves towards earth.

How does one defend against one of those suckers anyway? I don't think a hut made of bamboo will do.

Just another thing to worry about.

Economics Of Immigration

Lucid and sober explanation on the economics of immigration.

Cue Zep's 'Immigration Song.'

Walden's Personal Anarchy

So far, the one thing that's screaming out at me with Thoreau's 'Walden' is not its description of nature and solitary living, but its personal anarchism and his ruminations on human nature. On a couple of occasions, Thoreau asserts the state threatens him more than any living person can.

It's very much the base of what libertarians believe; that state coercion is or can be violent and destroys individual liberties.

In order to be liberated, sounds like, one has to drop out of society and pull a "Thoreau." So he thinks. I think. Even if you have the luxury of bringing your laundry to mom.
My friend and I often joke about "packing up and leaving for Barbados or some other island." Set up some lousy kiosque and live, well, happy. The folks who do it down there seem happy anyway.

The joke is either a cry for help or the desire to become deadbeats. Although, I'm not sure I agree doing so points to some deadbeat impulse.

2010-09-05

A Style Of Its Own

As I've written in the past, John Mellencamp is at the top of my favorite list if anything because he was one of the first artists I came into contact with when I was 10 years old. Since then, my musical travels have taken me beyond Mellencamp. I now sit on a diverse bedrock of musical knowledge. Or something like that.

Every now and then I get back to Mellencamp and each time I get a better sense of his place in music. Back when I brought home The Lonesome Jubilee, we were just a couple of teens too ignorant to decipher what was real, good and shit. I still struggle with that. Once the needle hit the vinyl record, all I knew is I wasn't listening to any run of the mill album. It was different. 

Not just different from his preceding smash LP Scarecrow (another gem of his) but different from what was being recorded at the time. Remember, these were the 1980s. New wave, heavy metal, nouveau-punk, rock Americana or Hearland rock and alternative and, gulp, dance music, competed for air wave supremacy. Diverse act such as Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, Bryan Adams, Billy Joel, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Echo and the Bunnymen, Morrisey, The Smiths, The Cure, The Cult, Duran Duran, U2, Huey Lewis and the News, The Cars, Talking Heads, The Go-Go's, Genesis, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, The Minutemen (I know, commercial success eluded them), Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Rush, Metallica, Eurythmics, Motley Crue, Husker Du, Tracy Chapman, The Police and a host of others graced the music world in which Mellencamp managed to carve his own niche.

And that was solidified with The Lonesome Jubilee.

No one was using the accordion, fiddle, hammond organ and lap-steel guitar in the manner employed by Mellencamp. It was raw, energetic and a Mellencamp-sound on to its own. I've always felt that record never really got the props it deserved. I own many albums from the era and it's easily one of the most influential for me. Not only that, The Lonesome Jubilee concert tour was perhaps the best concert I've ever seen. Man, I can't even explain how unbelievable it was. The arrangements, tributes, reinterpretations of songs, energy of the group have left a lasting impression. They were like the E Stree Band without a name.

Speaking of which, Mellencamp is no longer Bruce Springsteen jr.

Come to think of it, this blog is like a lonesome jubilee.



Neat video:

Imagination Time

If Boston Tea Party took place under the watchful eye of the blogosphere, what would be written about it?

I know I'd say something like, "hmph, that was no party!"

Rosemary And Garlic Pizza

One of my favorite focaccia/pizza style is rosemary and garlic. A so-called "white" pizza.

Damn I'm racial.

D'ya wanna all learn how to make'un? No'lem. I tells you.

Well. You're gonna want some rosemary. Fresh if you can. I have a basil/oregano/rosemary plant. If you don't have any or live in a sufficiently useless place that doesn't carry any, then dry rosemary is fine. If dry rosemary is considered exotic where you live, then move. Or if you can't move, stop reading...NOW!

Next you will need is one garlic. Garlic powder will do as well.

Third, olive oil. And try and buy a good one, ok? None of those cheap Italian imitations. Get the real, deal stuff. I go to a specialty shop where they have giant, stainless steal containers of three types of olive oil from three different regions in Italy. I chose one from Calabria. And that's what I used earlier today for my flatbread pizza.

Finally, dough. What, where did you think the ingredients were gonna go? In your pants? "Oh, mommy I think I made a boo-boo." "Oh-no, Commentator that better be olive oil running down the side of your leg! You're 22 for Pete's Sake!"

You can use pepper; if you have one of those all-in-one pepper grinders all the better. If not, coarse pepper; not powder pepper. And if you prefer to add something, sage is nice. Again fresh or dry.

But for now, I'll leave those out.

Let me talk about the dough. Either you make the dough from scratch, at which point you'll need to prepare your day properly, or you can go out and buy the dough already done. All you need to do is knead. If you're incredibly lazy or lack time, today you can buy pizza dough of all kinds already made. Some of them are pretty good too. It's a path to less resistance. Just follow the instructions on the package. Don't go trying to reinvent yeast.

Once you settled on your dough, you can choose if you will make a focaccia (basically a thin pizza) or pizza.

In a small dish, put, I don't know two tablespoons of olive oil (depending on the size of the pizza). If bigger add one more. Just make sure you have just enough to cover the pizza and nothing more or else it'll become oily. You'll get the hang of it. Eventually. Presuming you're adequate in the kitchen.

Add garlic. If you have a garlic crusher, crush it. If you don't, cut it finely. You don't want to eat chunks of garlic. Sometimes, when I'm feeling frisky, I'll mix fresh and powdered garlic.

At this point, you can decide if you want to add pepper and/or sage. There are many variations where people will add cheese, potatoes and so on but that's something else. We're concerned with ail/rosamarin here. No salt please. Thank you. Hold off on the rosemary for a sec.

With a brush spread the olive oil/garlic around on the pizza as if you're making love to something. It doesn't have to be living. Inanimate will do. The important thing is that you love.

Once complete, take the rosemary, smell it, smile and thank the Good Lord for nourishing the earth with such a divine herb, and sprinkle it around. Don't put too much because rosemary is pretty strong. Again, go by eye. It doesn't take a genius to "sense" you have enough.

Put it in the oven. If the dough is freshly made or bought, roughly 375 for 12-15 minutes will do. Maybe less. Keep an eye out for it. Better yet, ask the dude where you bought the dough how long you think you should bake it. If you buy a packaged dough (which I have no problem with provided you buy one with good ingredients), as I mentioned earlier, follow the instructions. Don't pretend to have the IQ of a piece of garlic.

I guess that's it.

PS: I couldn't find a classic rosemary/garlic pic on the net. Maybe next I should take a picture of mine and upload it.

St. Peter's Sake

Ok. When it comes to investigating the origin of phrases 'Pete's Sake' wasn't that complicated to deduce. It had to be connected somehow to St. Peter or was it St. Petie? I forget. Is Peterborough named after St. Peter?

In any event, Pete's Sake takes less time than saying, "for the sake of St. Peter!"

I'm having a harder time pinning down "Fuck's sake" though. I know there was no St. Fuck. I hope not for the love of Christianity.

A Completely Random Post

As opposed to the deliberately patterned nonsense I usually post. Of course.

Sometimes, while I wait for lunch (hey, ma! Where's my egg! And dip it in hot pepper sauce! And add some coriander and sea salt! Stop bitchin' and moanin'!), I peruse the 'net. Came across one Walter Chatton.

Makes you wonder how many lesser known people had an impact on better known figures.

2010-09-04

Battle of Megiddo



I'm pretty sure they didn't speak Arabic in 15th century b.c Egypt.

Scare

I woke up to find out that Google had suspended my accounts due to "suspicious activity." I have no idea how they got into my bed room.

Anyway.

I have no idea what happened. Sounds like a hack job.

What's unsettling Google can - Snap! - just like that take away your accounts if you violate any of their terms. It's not like they have a 1-800 number. I find it strange they have not set one up given their status in the world. Blogs and emails are intensely personal to people and in a time where they may have been caused injury, a voice can help soothe any problems or misunderstandings. Google, I reckon, can afford a telephone customer service team.

Time to reread the sucker and try my best to avoid this sort of thing in the future.

All this to say, I'm still around.

For now.

Lucky you.