Is it standard blogging protocol and etiquette to wish a Happy New Year?

If it is stay dry, warm and tight. Don't know what that means. Later.

Bye-bye Todd

Well, well, well...Jack Todd is finally leaving the Montreal Gazette sports pages he luckily littered and inhabited for far too long. I could have quietly let him ride into the average sunset and give the Gazette a shot at redemption however given his parting shot this morning quiet and humble is not his style.

Over the years, Jack Todd has been nothing but a big, thin-skinned, unoriginal, humourless, vitriolic and contradictory wanna be sports writer with a penchant to state the obvious. To hard core sports fans (though I freely admit he had his fans who appreciated his "tell it like it is" style) his column amounted to little. Though it did provide a raised eye brow or two. He's managed during his tenure to exponentially increase the ire of many knowledgeable and thoughtful sports junkies on numerous occasions. There's provocative writing and then there's just plain pointless proclivities that don't contribute much to sports discourse.

I'm just glad his act is over.

Here's what he wrote in possibly North America's worst MMQB column:

...(And to think that at one time I thought sports talk-radio (which he had no problems contributing to for a buck) was the absolute bottom of the barrel when it comes to sports "journalism." That was before the Internet.)

Brilliant stuff. Thank God for the Internet. It is there people had an outlet and escaped the madness of Todd's words. It is on the "Internet market" we realized just how bad he really was. We all know the Internet (and blogging) are both a blessing and curse; filled with brilliance and crap. Get over it.

Typical, short sighted words from a man who watched the Internet blow him by leaving him in a perpetual state of self-importance surrounded by a parochial and stagnant Montreal sports atmosphere. I never got the sense that he ever grew as a sports writer. Never.

I'll tell you one thing: I've seen some amazing sports writing on the Internet. Stuff that often surpasses most of what Todd could scribble on paper.

This is the type of "hard hitting journalism" Montreal readers were subjected to for years. In some ways, the IQ of Montreal sports fans decreased thanks to him. No, Jack. The bottom of the barrel was your time spent and wasted on the sports pages. You can delude yourself into believing only the "illiterate" didn't get you. I can assure you the very literate were not impressed.

Step aside gracefully.

Sometimes I wonder how many talented writers had to move on or wait on the sidelines while this pylon took up space in the papers.

Let's see how The Gazette fills this "void."


For the love of espresso!

This may be an odd subject to write about as a "last post for 2007" yet it's one of those perplexing and mysterious "what gives?"

Now that I've hooked you all in...what will he talk about? Aliens? Naked women?

Try Table d'Hote menus in restaurants.

For years I could never quite figure out why in an Italian restaurant an espresso or cappuccino is not offered as part of the table d'hote. Instead, they opt for regular coffee (mud with water) and tea. Effen, bloody tea. I'm all for tea, scones and civility but what gives?

For those who will counter, well, the majority of people don't drink fancy I-talian coffees. Fair enough. However, whenever I have asked to replace a lousy $2 espresso (actually they should be cheaper) it was always treated as an extra. So, not only do I not get the tea or coffee but I have to pay extra for an espresso. Why not just wink and add it to the menu?

That's plain not right - if not stupid. Italian restaurants who claim to be "authentic" should be ashamed.

Strange as this may sound but I've been to only TWO places that do it right. The owner at one of the places thinks it's ridiculous to do it otherwise. Another one we frequent had the decency to finally step up and say "take what you want. I can give you an espresso. It's no big deal."

Duh. You're an Italian restaurant!

Thus concludes this utterly banal but curious quasi-rant.

Happy new year.


The cost of protecting culture is passed on to the consumer

My brother in law and his wife own a new age spa that offers among other things Yoga and Pilate's. It is a grand, stress free place where people walk barefoot and speak in calm hush tones. Not the sort of place for a high strung person like me.

Come to think of it, my brother in law is not the sort of lad who would latch onto Buddha. On the other hand, my sister in law grew up and lived in India for a while hence...well you know.

This is besides the point.

Recently, the spa was visited by one of SOCAN's representative. The person was snooping around asking all sorts of questions that he had no business asking. My brother in law humoured him but as the snooper pressed ahead he became irritated.

"What music service do you use? Do you realize it's illegal to play your own music in public spaces? What's the square footage of your place? Subscribe to our service; it's the law. You do want to protect Canadian music right?"

My brother in law was speechless and then asked the person to leave.

Welcome to the communist side of Canada.

What is SOCAN? The whole ethos of SOCAN and for that matter CANCON (Canadian content rules) presupposes that Canadians don't get a fair shot and need to be "protected"- but therein lies the crinkle. Why don't they get a shot? Can it be that we don't measure up? Too often I read about how great our arts are only to find they have limited appeal or acclaim abroad. Nationalists and coddling organizations may get you the exposure but they can't help you father than that.

Note: Swear words on the horizon; be forewarned. Of course, it's all bull shit. You can't fabricate and manufacture quality art. When you force the market to like something all you do is water down your product in the long run.

I support Canadians by choice; by free will. I'm not going to buy someone because CANCON tells me to. If I don't want to listen to future wannabe Avril Lavigne skanks then that's my choice as a consumer of art.

It's insane how we've bureaucratized the arts. Guess what? There's a cost to all this. Indeed, someone has to pay for all these salaries.

It's odd to walk into a record shop and always find Canadian artists priced higher than international artists. How many times have I seen local artists CD's 25% more expensive than, say, Billie Holiday? So, even if I liked the musician and wanted to buy the CD my consumer instincts tell me "too bad. Would love to buy them but I ain't going to pay it. I'll buy something with a perceived higher value."

It's the same story with the wine industry in Quebec. Local wine makers are sodomized by the government owned SAQ (liquor commission). Canadian and Quebec wines are always higher in price than international wines. Why buy an unknown wine maker from Canada for $16.95 when I can buy outstanding table wine from France or Italy for $12.95? It makes little sense.

While I'm on it, can anyone explain to me how the government permits itself to monopolize liquor? We have no choices here. Just like we have no choices when it comes to our health. Imagine how much better it would be if we were allowed to freely import wines? The variety would be wider and prices would drop.

It all comes down to one argument: government do what's right for the collective good better than the private sector. Again, let's be frank here. Cover your eyes children: bull shit.

The only ones benefiting are the people behind the racket - it's no different than the ones we see in the private sector. The only difference is that they get to hide behind the wall of "social conscious" government. Government employees are vastly over paid and it would be nice to see what the market values them at.

Why stop at music, wine and health? We have it in sports to. Very few Canadians would want to see the CFL over run by American players but that's exactly what it would be if there were no Canadian roster rules. Canadians accept lower quality as a small price to pay to have homegrown Canadians play in the league. In any event, it's not like it helps Canadians at the QB position anyway.

This is fine. But what do Canadians do? They turn around and support the NFL. I'm positive that if they had to choose they would want the CFL to merge with the NFL.

It's a vicious circle. Force Canadians onto the roster but lower the overall quality. Allow coaches to decide and see the quality increase (and possible attendance) substantially.

It's the same principle in music and what SOCAN argues. It strikes me as superficially pushing the arts to fulfill an agenda.

Who gets screwed? The artist of course. Cui bono? Do I really have to ask?


Canada's gift to Jazz: Oscar Peterson 1925-2007

Not a good end to 2007.

A fellow Montrealer and a true master of jazz, Oscar Peterson was also a person of utmost class. The jazz world mourns indeed.

They finally got her: Benazir Bhutto assassinated in Pakistan

The usual "we strongly condemn" rhetoric soon followed. The implication of this tragic event will prove problematic moving forward but for now it's a huge loss for the United States and in many ways the forces of political civility and modernity.


Paris Hilton may want to change her name to Calcutta

Ah, the frolicking girl tramp without a soul has a family that has honour. God bless Paris Hilton's grandfather. The guy is giving away 97% of his wealth. I don't generally write about wastoids but this was too rich to ignore.

Calcutta Hilton.

Sounds right.

Can Russian mob films challenge Italian dominance?

Forgive if this is a little scattered but I'm battling a migraine.

For years and years and years and years the base of great mob and violent movies were that of Italian gangsters. The thinking was, accurately it turns out, that the Italian mafia was incredibly marketable. People wanted to watch the Italians. Remarkable considering that the South American, Irish and Jewish cartels and mobs are every bit the equal to its Italian counterparts. Chinese and Japanese mobsters are too. Yet, what is the Irish, Jewish or Asian equivalent of 'The Godfather' or 'Goodfellas?'

There are many "gangster" films out there. Think "Snatch" and its genre.

Still, look at the the list at what are regarded the greatest mob films: Donnie Brasco, Once Upon a time in America, Scarface, A Bronx Tale, The Untouchables, Miller's Crossing and Casino. They are essentially Italian based with the exception of Scarface (Cuban) and Miller's Crossing (Irish). Of course, what constitutes a "mob" flick needs to be defined and I'm not about to do this here but it has included films like: Resevoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, The Departed (this is a good one and is about the Irish), On the Waterfront, Road to Perdition, Analyze This, Bonnie and Clyde - though AT was a comedy and BC was about bank robbers. 'Hoodlum' was a nice change for its black versus German angle. Boyz 'N the Hood was a decent film that explored African-American gangsters.

'Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai' was a culture non-related flick (though the Italians did not lurk far behind in this one) of incredible value. Well worth searching out and watching.

And who can forget the golden age of gangster films in the 1930s, 40s and 50s?

Whatever. It won't change my long winded point.

I hear there's an Armenian mob. Would you care if they made a film about it?

Italian culture in general is an easy and enticing target. Ubiquitous, large and vocal, the community is still fair game for major stereotypes that would make other cultures cringe. You live and die by the sword as a wop. The creators of 'Happy Days' originally intended for Arthur Fonzarelli to be a blue-eyed Swede. They went with the cool, greaser of Italian origin. The Fonz would not have had the same lasting effect otherwise. Of course, played by a Jew. All Jews play the part of Italians - it's in the contract.

And the list goes on. Italians = ratings for whatever reasons; good or bad.

A few years back I remember a Greek friend of mine being "insulted" at how "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" negatively portrayed Greeks. I almost spit out my campari as she spewed these words. "Have you seen the work done on the Italians?" I told her. To say nothing of Mexicans/Hispanics, blacks, Irish, Germans and Jews. Maybe Greeks are not used to being in the spotlight. They got off easy; MBFGW is tame.

I digress...again.

What I was trying to get at is that I predict (based on nothing but personal observations) that the rise of the Russian mafia in not only North America but in world criminal affairs, may be able to succeed where the Irish or the Jews could not- to rival the old style Italian-based gangster flick.

Personally, a thoroughly enjoyable Russian mob film is 'Little Odessa' starring Tim Roth.

So. Are the Russians coming and will it redefine how mob films are explored? The question for Italians is this: will they welcome this or will they resent losing the spotlight even if it means finally alleviating the stereotype?

A historical look at climate change

The Economist chimes in with this piece on climate change in the 18th century.


Merry Christmas

It's that time of year again. That's right, the day Jesus was born and how this kick ass moment remains a source of concern and intellectual irritance for evolutionary theorists. Everyone is just jealous that they weren't a product of an Immaculate Conception. I say chill, take in and enjoy the beautiful brutality of modern Christmas in all its capitalist and Christian glory and overtones. Cynical you say? Ha! Hardly. Ha!

Ok, enough of this. Stay warm or luke and make sure you give a wino a quarter (because that works out to roughly two cents per month), donate a lousy dollar to a kid selling something and resist the temptation to slam the door on that person holding seven bags stumbling toward the exact same friggin door as yours.


What ever happened to the cool private investigator?

I lament the death of the cool, independent, maverick gumshoe on TV. I'll take Simon & Simon, Rockford Files and Magnum PI any day over those dreadful CSI shows.

Yeah they're entertaining but they all seem to lack - not just CSI -character and charm. And the subplots into the character's lives - Yeesh. Just plain cheesy. Heck, even The A-Team did a better job of managing Murdoch, FACE, B.A and Hannibal.

Jim Rockford or Thomas Magnum seemed to be more realistic characters than anything on CSI. We actually got a "feel" for who they were and we believed them. It's tougher to get into Grissom (who I like) and ADHD boy Horatio. It's very possible the classic shows did not attempt to imitate life tightly yet they seemed to have achieved this more than shows of today (I deliberately exclude Law&Order which is very good.)

Rick, TC, Magnum and Higgins remain the best quartet this side of Des Moines. There was a fluidity between the characters that is not captured today.

I could be wrong. It's early in the morning.

To tax or not to tax

Relying on and increasing taxes as a solution is proof of that there is a lack of vision and a breakdown in proper perspective for posterity.

Rudimentary question: Do low taxes necessarily translate into prosperity?

The big game up here is to often recite how much more Canadians pay in taxes than Americans. if we consider just income taxes then yes, Americans are better off given they have more disposable income. However, when overall tax burdens are taken into consideration the difference tightens. While Americans still pay in totality less taxes than just about anybody in the OECD (save Ireland who are "open for business), Canada's tax weight is not that bad - though it should be lower. Especially when compared to Western Europe who basically "rape" their citizens. Not mentioned here are corporate taxes.

In any event, arriving at what constitutes taxes and how to calculate it differs from country to country. The philosophical aspect of taxes* and its role in society also tends to vary. Many factors come into play and there'll always be debates about this but we can get a general idea and at every turn the verdict seems to be the U.S. faces lower taxes (though they have risen significantly in the last 100 years and certainly many do feel they pay too many types of taxes) than most countries and Canada lies somewhere in the middle - same story for Canada which was far less interventionist a century ago.

*Gotta love left leaning think tanks who claim to be offer "alternative" options.


Blog link of inerest: The New York Times and Italy

Italy fascinates many people. Here's an interesting comment via Wind Rose Hotel. Reminds me of a survey I read in The Economist - big fans of Italian civilization; less so of its politics and worse its penchant to meet with aloofness that glory of their country - which concluded Italy could and should do better.

But isn't that what keeps us attracted to it? Many countries are faced with inherent contradictions and ambiguities. Yet, in Italy everything seems so much more...more...pronounced for a lack of a better word. Fully capable of producing some of the world's greatest ideas and products, Italy is just as able to serve a dish of cynicism. It is as opulent as it is tasteful. Civility and violence live side by side on another. Parochial pride and indifference repress its inner desire to outwardly chase honourable civic duty. It is a peninsula, where the good life and beauty knows no other place to dwell but repulsive vengeance dances around the corner. Throughout the course of history, Italy beguiled, perplexed and intoxicated the greatest of people and mind eliciting both scorn and admiration.

Jammed packed inside this tiny, slender peninsula are many things to many people.


Link of Interest: Politics and Terrorism

A writer Desicritics asks 10 questions directed to that Al Queda - I want to say leadership but that's too strong a word to describe murderers - let's just say brass.

The inevitable destructive path of one act of thoughtlessness

Here's an interesting blog post over at Pen and Spindle.

On a somewhat different but not entirely unrelated story, years ago someone I know was committing Visa fraud. He even asked me if I wanted to buy something since it was "free." When I told him he was a fool for participating in the racket (I told him he would get caught and he eventually did) he said it was no big deal because, get this, Visa had millions stashed away to pay out Visa fraud financial fallouts.

So it's all good in the end the way he saw it. He steals the Visa number, buys himself a TV and the card holder gets compensated thanks to the emergency fraud treasury.


What he failed to factor into his hopelessly selfish calculation was the emotional stress caused to the person and the financial burden placed upon the financial system over at Visa.

It's this kind of lack of coherent thinking and insisting to not follow things to their logical end that lead people to dead ends.

Yes, it's hard to defend a credit card company. While the invention of credit has made liquidity more "flexible and fluid" the other darker side of the coin is that it keeps people buried in debt as they are constantly encouraged to use their "cards." Then again, a smart, responsible person will resist temptation. But hey, Eve had an apple...

Guess who pays for all the stealing? You and me. That's why, in part, fees and interest rates are so high. One act of criminality has no bearing on the system. Many acts has a chain reaction that is paid for by honest people.

One snow flake in itself melts and has no weight. Many snowflakes bound together can bury a city. One cup of water nourishes the body and soul, a tidal wave can eradicate a city.

This applies to how we protect and preserve history.

We're quite the short sighted species.


Question of the day...

...What if The A-Team messed up their first mission?


Death to conspiracies; revive the healthy skeptic

Someone I know, a family member it turns out, recently and in a rather sophomoric manner asserted that 9/11 was an inside government job. I proclaim sophomoric because this particular person is not a big reader of politics, political theory and history. Not surprisingly a wild conspiracy can be quite intoxicating if not self-evident. Yet feels perfectly justified in mentioning this with an honest tone. Such people stumble about and discover various conspiracy theories and take them to be functions of critical thinking and "open mindedness." Question the sources and credibility of the conspiracy theorists? No. They are patriots. At least, this is what they would have you believe.

As I stumbled to discuss the matter, someone else chimed in with a "all government are corrupt" statement. Implicit here was that corruption can easily convert into murderous - as in 9/11. The monster had tentacles. I was not prepared to fight on two fronts! When an effort was made by someone to question the offenders she was dismissed as "closed minded."

How to fight insulting and insipid allegations at the hands of ignorance?

I like conspiracy theories just as much as the next guy. I do actually spend time reading them. They cause me to explore things on my own. My personal belief is that when push comes to shove CT's come up short. I will always listen but accepting takes more work.

There is no way to debate this. Much like terrorists refute accepted norms and rules of engagement - thus dismissing traditional forms of diplomacy - conspiracy theorists simply refute standard and logical responses to their allegations. It's easy to say, "you are close minded" and that "you're a willing an unknowing participant in the cover up" and "that anything the government says is propaganda."

Something tells me that even if an independent inquiry was to be opened and subsequently concluded, for the sake of argument, that the Warren Commission was adequate, hard conspiracy theorists would scoff at this and somehow pin it on the Illuminati or some other darker force for arriving at such a summary. The only truth they need to hear is the one that fits their perceptions and versions of the facts.

And what would they do with the "truth" in any event? Did it ever occur to them that "truth" remains elusive possibly because their logic is flawed?

The sad truth is that it is possible and feasible not everything will be able to be answered to satisfy everyone. History has taught us that much. There are many questions that have been left unanswered. It's how we treat these "gaps" or absence of evidence that defines our intellectual health.

It is healthy to be skeptical and ask questions. However, something seems disturbingly adrift. People are accepting conspiracy theories at face value with little thought. The concept of 'thinking things to their logical end' is completely weeded out of the equation. The notion of critical thinking has been redefined. Specifically, the manufacturing of dissent and subsequent financial success of conspiracy theories have become the process to which we define critical thinking.

It's a serious malaise.

I hold little regard for those who willingly remain ignorant of history on one side but gleefully accept a political conspiracy theory. Conspiracy theorizing is a form of inferiour and parasitical intellectualism.

Why are people so vulnerable to conspiracy theories?

It is a 21st century scourge polluting our minds. A war must be waged to defeat it.


Hootchie Mama: What Obama can do for America

We often hear how America has lost its standing in global politics. So much so that the perception seems insurmountable to reverse.

What they need is to make a splash.

From a public relations perspective, Obama could help to repair America's image abroad almost instantly. Sure he's smart, good looking, religious - and look here! black - those things independently mean little. It's how you package it that matters and Obama does this very well with a dash of panache and sincerity.

Even domestically he simply represents a new voice and style in American politics. The Clinton manufactured machine is a vote for the same cynical status quo. I can't imagine why Americans who want "real change" would vote for Hilary over Obama.

If the United States wants a quick solution to their "negative" standing on the global stage, then Obama may be the right candidate to improve international relations - even though the GOP has historically been stronger on foreign affairs.

The question is that whether he's ready to take on the complex world of international politics.

Save the planet - but buy my book first

Here's a comment about the environment I came across in the Blogcritics political forums. A cottage industry onto itself. The irony is that the people who want to save the planet while preaching us to do our part are once again letting their idealism get in the way of realism. They can't see they are being made pawns now to what is a noble cause. Yet it is capitalist profiteers who will cash in on the whole thing. A whole new economic "foot print" has been drawn up. You may as well buy "green" mutual funds and make some pennies for yourself too.

I don't mean to sound cynical. I am not by nature. I have read too many thoughtful books and spoken to several reputable (and calm) people who do feel we need to be more environmentally responsible. That said, it's easy to spot that now it's a huge race to harness the reigns of power.

What if this is true and accurate and it is all one big cynical economic hoodwink?

Qui bono? for real.

"It's only partly about being eco-friendly any more. The people pushing this now are invested in green technology, carbon trading companies, etc. They are setting up mechanisms by which they can harvest several hundred billion in 'carbon taxes' and distribute it amongst themselves.

The only catch is they must scare you into giving up your money and your rights for essentially nothing (and they're succeeding). In the end the public will get what they're ignorance deserves and the rich will continue to be that way.

My advice, invest in green companies and if you can get inside information find out how you can score some carbon credits (buying an old mine or near defunct energy company and shutting it down for profit perhaps?)"


Writers on Strike

Don't know how many people have noticed but writer's at the Writers Guild of America (WGA) are on strike against distributors in Hollywood. The crux of the issue is while writers earn a salary plus royalties on their work it does not cover new media residuals. This additional revenue stream is expected to drown traditional media moving forward. Surprise, surprise.

In this light, we can see why writers are striking. They want a piece of the pie they helped bake. If a professional athlete is compensated to reflect their contribution to merchandising and ticket sales, why shouldn't it be the same for the art created by writers and creators?

The life of a writer is stressful and marked with uncertainty. In some way, they remind me of a professional coach in sports - only difference is that they have some security and are unionized.

I don't think anyone would argue that owners of companies and distributors who take on the risk deserve the bulk of the profits, however, that doesn't mean the "cuts" are fair. The writers portion is pitifully tiny and akin to what a musician earns from the record labels - that is, peanuts. Which is why we are seeing more and more bands of weight and means like Radiohead sell directly to music fans now. They are cutting the label right out of the equation.

The trade and plight of a writer unfortunately is not highly regarded. All the spoils go to the actors and directors who bring the script to life. Of course, there is little philosophical merit to consider writing as an "inferiour" part of the process. I never did understand this. Without a great writer to bring to life imagination the actor is but a mere skeleton. Alas, I am bias and could be wrong.

The writers strike is also depressing. Writers have no real power. That's just the way it is. Power to the proletariat! And then watch it be crushed.

What can we expect in terms of programming as production companies seek projects? I'm being told from insiders that the demand for reality shows should increase.


More reality TV? Does that mean Ashlee Simpson will resurface? Awful. Just plain awful.


Are we attacking Christmas?

Sometime ago, in a not yet discovered not too distant galaxy, I asked if a liberal media bias existed. To some there is, to others there isn't. Part of why this may be so is because it is difficult to measure what constitutes overt liberal bias - or just plain bias.

It very much is a moving target trying to neatly define such things. For example, to liberal minded individuals I may come off as conservative or libertarian. To conservatives I may be liberal.

Liberals are convinced conservatives have the power. Conservatives charge the very opposite. How to bridge or explain this discrepancy? Indeed, if this is the case, can it be that the media is balanced?

All that being said, the reality is that people believe there is one. Or else why would there be so many organizations and "watch dogs" committed eradicating media bias? To say nothing of published books.

Which brings me to my next question: is there a "war" on Christmas and by extension "Christianity?" Again, this is similar to the media scenario. To some, banning public Christmas carrolls, changing Christmas lyrics, demanding Santa Claus switch to 'Ha, ha, ha," removing Christmas trees is clearly an indirect - if not direct - onslaught on the Christian heritage. To others, it's an over reaction and brings us truly to a more secular - and therefore respectful - society that keeps religion in the privacy of our homes. Heck, the whole exercise of Christmas and its massive spending spree that follows rub some people the wrong way.

Let me add a crinkle to this. Maybe taking the cross done from our classes is a good thing but has anyone notice the rise of neonationalism based along racial lines?

I'll leave it to my brighter commenting readers to derive sense out of this.


Questions about higher education: After ABC comes what?

Are University's and the educational system useful to those of us who don't specialize in a particular discipline? Is it relevant to the new economic paradigm unfolding? Should University's consider becoming more lean and agile to help foster a true independent, intellectual environment? Are people with University degrees better off? Why do we seek post-secondary education and do we do it for the right reasons? Is society forcing (shaming?) people who should otherwise be pursuing other goals to go to school?

Those prunish Parliamentarians and their racey pictures

The person who reads this blog knows that I like soft pink tissue and dislike the New Democratic Party. I don't know why, I just do. They just strike me as irrelevant but hey they're a "third" voice on the Canadian political landscape and people do vote for them so they do serve a useful democratic role in their own small way. Good for them.

Progressiveness is an elusive term. Every ideology will claim to be "progressive." Certainly the NDP think they are but to me it's all nonsense. One man's progressiveness is another man's...pass the beer nuts.

So, like, I came across this article and wondered about "progressiveness." It seems one member of the NDP has taken offense of having caught a Conservative member viewing pictures of his "scantily clad" girlfriend in the Commons. Surely, this ridiculous story doesn't count as being progressive? Yet, reading Ms. Mathyssen's words one realizes she firmly believes she is. Is this what Parliamentarians waste their time on?

She is attempting to turn this into a lame women's right story. It was his girlfriend for heaven's sake. Distasteful? Perhaps. Let it go. Permit his bosses deal with him.

The popular conception of conservatives being tight asses may be true but the NDP and socialists are not only tight-assed but espouse a spent world view.


A thought on reasonable accommodation

Gilles Duceppe, leader of some party in Ottawa, has declared that multiculturalism is a threat to Quebec culture. Yawn.

I do not support multiculturalism as a concept to be enshrined by law. Rather, I support it at the individual level.

In any event, the problem is not people or children wearing hijabs and other cultural or religious garments and symbols in public. To this end, we are sufficiently tolerant and quite frankly see no point in debating this trivial issue. If anything, it adds to the richness of our culture. In other words, multiculturalism as expressed freely by people and not defined by a legal charter.

The problem is when people - call them the minority within the minority - turn around and ask, for example, the majority to not say "Merry Christmas."


Article of Interest: Excuse me, but do you mind turning over your rights to us?

Here's another case of government officials stepping on the toes of civil rights. I hope Nova Scotian's strikes this anti-democratic proposal down. I understand that people are terrified of smoke but we are getting a little excessive as we walk around elbows up trampling on the rights of individuals.

Then again, we opened this can of worms so it's not surprising that it was presented. Why stop at banning smoking in public spaces? Why not go right into the homes of citizens? At this point, why not just ban the tobacco companies outright? Make it illegal to sell nicotine. That way, it would spare us the horrors of big brotehr interventionism on the private affairs of people and how they choose to live their life.

Welcome to the world of hyper-health tyranny.

Makes me want to take up smoking.

Thoughts on American politics

With Romney running for the GOP, the whole idea of a Mormon possibly holding office is certainly an issue for some Americans. To some, Mormonism is a cult and to others like journalists MSN's Lawrence O'Donnell (who tends to get a little hyperbolic at times) it is an organization rooted in racism and anti-American principles.

Another thing that perked my ears was how some during the campaign talk as if secularists are atheists. That secularism and atheism are forms of religion. They are not.

Whether secularism is rampant or not these days is a legitimate cause for debate and leads to this strange tidbit made on the McLoughlin Group by Newsweek columnist Eleonore Clift. I often find myself opposed to what she says but this one has me confused. It was a passing remark in which she asserted that she can't see how "changing merry Christmas to happy holidays isn't an assault on Christianity"

What is it then? It's a part of the Christian tradition and there is an attempt to eradicate all forms of Christian symbols by hordes of hyper sensitive secularists- all under the guise of ensuring secularism progresses and respect for other religions.

I'll tell you one thing, laugh if you will, but I find Pat Buchanan's insights and grip of American political history fascinating if not downright educational.


Free Richard Latimer

Richard Latimer was ridiculously denied parole by a three-member parole board for not showing "proper insight" for killing (in the name of mercy) his 12-year old disabled daughter. What the heck does that mean? He needs more counseling? Please.

I think he and his family suffered enough. We're acting as if he is a cold blooded murderer. He's not.

Yet, Karla Homolka - an unrepentant murderess - roams our streets freely as a result of a "deal" to nab Paul Bernardo.

Something is wrong with this picture. Latimer poses no threat to society.

Free him.


Article of Interest: Is Turkey slipping away from the West?

Turkey, Turkey, Turkey. Pass the cranberry.


Turkey is undergoing some internal changes and this might have serious implications for the United States and Europe. Are they moving into the arms of Iran?

The television age of fake reality and Bruckheimervision

Why does it feel as though every second show on television is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer? Is it because it is accurate?

This can't be good for programming as an art can it? Assuming, of course, we want TV to be artistic. I would imagine it to be so since actors, producers, directors, writers etc. are all artists in their own way.

How healthy is it that one guy gets to do so many shows? Talk about hogging all the spoils. I yearn for the day when I literally change channels and get to choose from a giant mass of shows providing high quality with fresh perspectives on a regular basis. I don't just want to see cheesy Bruckheimer but rather 10 different producers with 10 different takes on what constitutes a great show.

I don't believe for one minute Bruckheimer owns an artistic monopoly. It's sort of like asking David Foster to do all the producing for singers. Spare me the "originality" crap. None of these people are except for a precious few (praise the Lord for HBO for finding a few.) You can't sit and tell me that CSI is a show that can't be surpassed in quality. CSI: Miami in particular is borderline comedic.

They say group think sinks in places like academia, corporations and politics. The same thing can hit art and television execs too. It seems everything they do is based on a model; a blueprint. For ratings and profits this is necessary. But in terms of the viewing experience it's awful.

Everything in moderation is fine but it's nuts that if you're a writer you have to script Reality TV to get a job (if you're lucky - we won't go there.) I have to watch a group of losers under the guise of being real TV? Where the the only lessons learned is how Darwinism and Macchiavellianism can be degraded to its most tribal base? Please. I'd rather read 'Clifford the Big Red Dog.'

Here's an idea for a show (I'm keeping the serious ones for myself): Are you smarter than a 3rd grader? Since we are fond lowering the bar why not?


You mean there was life before Jesus?

Every once in a while I climb out of my reading lair (there's so much of Savonarola and Calvin and Hobbes one can take) so that my lady friend can keep me abreast of all that swirls around television land. She thinks I'm a tad wound up and need to relax a little from time to time. My recent sassy successes on a geography test only served to confirm her suspicions. Heck, even I surprised myself.

So, with that being said and done, here's a little tidbit the good lady brought to my attention. She sat on the sofa and asked if I heard so and so ( we didn't know her name) claim that "Christianity came before the Greeks and the Romans."

It seems someone on a show called 'The View' made a bit of an intellectual and historical boo-boo. Her exact blunder that gave way to many ridiculing her intelligence? "I don't think anything predates Christianity," were her mistaken words. Ouch!

While on the surface the temptation to poke fun at someone increases five, maybe ten-fold, a moment of quick reflection is in order. As I processed what I heard, my lady friend (always looking for a sympathetic, gentle and thoughtful answer) raised a possible explanation in defense of this poor soul. Is it possible she simply got mixed up?

When she said "nothing predates Christianity" perhaps she did not mean religion per se but God? Specifically, was her mistake to mix Christianity with God?

Now of course, my argument does not hold up against the fact that she did not know, according to reports, if the world "was flat" on a previous show and that she did not believe in evolution. I can't comment on those because I did not see them. I did see this recent one.

Of course, anyone with a remote grasp of history would manage to separate the two (Christianity and God) but I can accept the possible scenario of human error. Heaven knows, I hope and pray before Constantine that this is in fact what happened.

Whether this chick should be on TV is another issue. Then again, didn't 'The View' have scholar Rosie O'Donnell as a member?


Honouring a great but overlooked rivalry

The NHL is screwed up. That's how I'll start this post. The Detroit Red Wings rolled into Montreal this evening. The first we see of them in two seasons. Imagine that; an Original Six team to which the Habs battled many a great games barely play anymore.

The two teams see so little of one another that a ceremony was held to honour 81 years of great tradition. Pure Red Wings legends Gordie Howe, Marcel Dionne, Marcel Pronovost, Alex Delvecchio and Ted Lindsay as well as Chris Chelios were all present. Dickie Moore, Guy Carbonneau, Jean-Guy Talbot, Stephane Richie, Claude Lemieux and the great Jean Beliveau represented the Habs.

Why do we get shivers whenever we hear the names of legends of a time past be called out?

It was interesting to observe that the two captains who took the ceremonial face off - Nick Lidstrom of Detroit and Montreal's Saku Koivu - were Europeans (Swedish and Finnish respectively) among players who for the most part played in a league that was 80% if not 90% Canadian. The number is down to around 60-65% now.

The Wings have revived their franchise. They are easily one of the most successful franchises (along with the New Jersey Devils) in the NHL for the last 15 years and are once again among the best teams in hockey this season. It is hoped by Habs fans that they too can rekindle what was once a glorious franchise.

If that were to ever happen wouldn't it be grand to one day see a Detroit Red Wings vs. Montreal Canadiens ( both holders of dynasties in the 1950s) Stanley Cup final?

First things first; make the Original Six teams play each other more.

By the numbers:

Montreal Canadiens 24 cups in 32 appearances.
Detroit Red Wings 10 cups in 22 appearances.

The two teams met five times in a final with Detroit holding a 3-2 edge. 1966 was the last time they met; Montreal were victorious that year.

Congratulations to Venezuela for subduing Chavez peacefully

I don't profess to be an expert on South American affairs let alone Venezuela. Except for a course I aced in University, I've kept abreast by reading various publications whenever time permits. However, I am heartened to have read that Venezuela rejected Hugo Chavez's insane and ludicrous plan to be dictator for 50 years under the guise of a socialist "paradise." That guy is bad news.

Venezuelans, it appears, are not fools.

Mind Numbing News: Mulroney's desperate cash grab

No, like I didn't pay much attention to the Conrad Black and Barbara Amiel saga, I'm not paying attention to the Schreiber affair involving former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and 300 gra...make that $500 000. Sorry, whoppee-doo. They lost me at when they discovered pasta wasn't exchanged. Was it tortiglioni or rigatoni? Barilla or Gallo? Fresh or packaged? Dammit, that's the part of the story I want to know more about. It goes right to the culinary credibility of those involved.

Nope. Not suggesting using influence from a position of power for personal gain is not sleazy. It is. But how does this affect me exactly? How does this enhance democracy? Nah. We have far more important things to tackle.

Move along. Nothing to see here.

Maserati is back and as beautiful as ever

I've always been a disciple of Italian cars and Maserati in particular. The history and philosophy of Italian car manufacturing and technology took a decidedly different turn other legendary automobile countries like Germany, Great Britain and France. Though Britain comes closest given its tradition of building independent sleek, speedy sports cars.

Maserati has come back into the North American market. This is nothing new for Italian manufacturers who tend to be marked by inconsistent interest when dealing abroad. I remember when Alfa Romeo did the same thing with the 164L models in the 1990s and just as quickly disappeared into the Northern Italian sun.

Italian cars are not German cars. They have different interpretations of what constitutes a car. The prevailing belief is that the Germans own all the advancements in car engineering. As a whole, the Germans produce wonderful masterpieces like BMW and Mercedes. Even Audi has come through with some great cars recently. However, Italy too has something to say from Brembo breaking systems to unmatched design through companies like Zagato and Pininfarina.

In the luxury car market Japan and Germany (heck, even Sweden) rightfully have the market cornered. However, if you're a person looking for something different then you may want to consider Maserati. Be forewarned, once you experience an Italian car you may never turn you're back on it.

Maybe not as reliable for harsh winters but its aura is intoxicating. Perhaps temperamental but its beauty indisputable. Yes, it can be stubborn but admittedly smooth in its delivery. There's something about riding in an Italian car and if you're one that is tired of everyone owning a Lexus, Bimmer or 'Cedes well stand out and drive a Renaissance classic like the Maserati!


The death of Claudio Castagnetta deserves an inquiry

On the heels of the Robert Dzeikanski tragedy at the Vancouver airport, another case of taser misuse that took place in September of 2007 has been brought forward.

The case of Italian national Claudio Castagnetta should strike a chord with Canadians. This time the culprits are the Quebec police. It turns out that while he was in a police detention center, he had convulsions and showed clear signs of suicidal behaviour and mental problems. There have been subsequent reports that he was bi-polar.

Stun gun-happy cops may even zap a autistic person if this keeps up. Or how about a little old lady in slippers roaming the streets who lost her way from the home? How would they react then? I exaggerate but they showed little rational and compassionate actions in the aforementioned cases that it has to make us wonder.

What's the difference between the two?

Both seem to be a case of men in emotional distress. Both clearly were not criminals according to video and witnesses.

One was captured on film and captivated the attention of citizens. The other was not and has been forgotten. Out of site our of mind.

The result in each case? A justified call for an immediate inquiry in the Dzeikanski case and none for Castagnetta. The Italian embassy and community are still waiting for answers.

This is not to pile on the police but something clearly needs to be examined regarding tasers. Police officers don't seem to be able to distinguish between a person who is sick and one who is a criminal. Now there is talk that they will have to be properly trained for situations.

That's a start.

However, my question is why are police officers indifferent (or depraved) to begin with? Why are they not capable of exerting common sense instead of group-thuggery?


Corporate handouts are a pointless means to a dead-end

Why oh why must we always turn to the government? Need people to listen to your music? Call the CRTC to force Canadians what to listen to. A senseless tragedy takes place? Well, put in a demand to the government to regulate human vices. The dollar spins upward thus eliminating a mirage and a competitive advantage for Canadian manufacturers? Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

Couldn't resist. "I like de black one..." If you get this one you have watched waaaay too much television like I have. Television intake was not regulated in my home.

Hmm. Maybe that's why I am a rebel against interventionism?

I consider myself a moderate. So, some interventionism is alright I guess for the collective good.

However, Premier Charest's recent $620 million package to rescue the manufacturing sector is one area that seems just plain misguided - not to mention wasteful. Nice these types of games.

Corporate handouts are ridiculous. Especially to companies who should have known better. Times were good when the dollar was down and companies should have been a little more enlightened. The concept of 'saving for a rainy day' certainly had no friends among them. Or what about being prepared in the event of a rising dollar?

Instead the emperor had no clothes and with his (or her) hands sticking out squawking, "But we drive the economy!" Sure, in spite of yourselves.

We always tend to get top-heavy. Then we have to trim or cut away the fat like a bad abdominoplasty. Companies are filled with so many deadbeats in middle and upper management it's scary. Scary as Tom Brady starting on his own 25 yard line. Scary as a drunk Saskatchewanite (or is it Saskatchewanian?) sharing a Pilsner with a polar bear in heat in the dead of winter in -40c conditions still celebrating a Grey Cup victory three months after the fact.

Shake myself back into shape.

Anyway, guess who pays for all this?


Of book stores, art and Canadian Nationalism

I placed an order on Chapters/Indigo online a couple of months back. I bought a soccer book - one that I hope to review shortly if I can remember its contents - and a novel by a Canadian writer.

The soccer book came but the novel never did. This morning I received a notice from Chapters explaining they had to cancel the order and a few other blah, blah, blah's.

It's not the first time this happens but this one is somewhat irksome. I could not resist responding. Basically, I asked them how could a Canadian company that prides itself on being "Canadian" not have a Canadian author in stock?

Then again, this is Canada so this shouldn't surprise anyone.

The arts scene here is managed in a bizarre manner. I remember years ago wanting to purchase a Canadian jazz musician. Price? A whopping $24.95 as opposed to the average of of $16 t0 $18. Many jazz albums command higher prices but usually they are imports or special editions.

I could never quite figure out the contradiction of government assistance for the arts in the form of SOCAN and the CRTC Canadian content rules on one hand and the gouging of consumers on the other. So they force a Canadian musician to get on air but to buy that artist at a store it costs 25% more? Makes no sense.

I'm sure it has something to do with supply and demand. And how murky the publishing and recording industry operate.

Anyway, just a thought. Do Canadians REALLY support their artists?


Film link

If you're into independent (indie) films check the Gotham Awards out here.

9/11 Rescuers Forgotten

This is a special link.

If you've never heard of John Feal maybe it's time you should.

When a great metropolis was in need rescuers were there to help their fellow citizens. Why are they now being shunned by pathetic bureaucratic rules?

Just follow the link above for details on the plight of people with various life threatening health problems since 9/11 and the absurd inflexible rules that followed regarding help and compensation.

Consider linking this to your own blogs.


Article of Interest: Politics: The war on terror

Essay by Philip H. Gordon titled "Can the War on Terror be Won?" Comment to follow...possibly. Just a little busy these days.


Advertising for chumps?

One mini-wheat, two-mini-wheats, three mini-wh...

Oh, hi.

Lost my count.

Maybe an advertising expert can help me with this one. I was reading the sports pages and noticed an ad for Dodge Chrysler Jeep. The caption read, "Be like... insert local sports celebrity here." In this instance, it was Montreal Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo

Now what would make me want to run and buy this car? Does this type of advertising actually work? I thought consumers have become too sophisticated to be swayed by such blatant ploys.

That's my pre-Grey Cup Sunday thought of the day.


The inescapable art and benefit of writing pro bono

A magazine editor gave me some advice not so long ago: if you're starting out you'll have to write pro bono.

She was the first editor to actually see past my query and spot something else. We all need breaks and mine went something like "hey, you've got the goods and we want you but first you have some learning to do." I accepted and I've been contributing to Exceptional Family ever since. Pro bono of course.

Hey, it's a learning curve they tell me.

Writing pro bono shouldn't be an issue. If you love to write it is what it is. I'm not suggesting you shouldn't earn a living off it or get paid for your work. Far from it. Sometimes you just have to learn to pick and choose your battles. Eventually I'll get my cut.

Which brings me to another thought. I helped to launch a sports site called Inter Sports Wire button to the side on the sidebar. It's a sport blog with an ambitious game plan - excuse the pun - but we're having fun with it. We love to write and we're, well, sports junkies. Why not make a site out of it? Everyone is doing it mom!

I don't know what the rewards - if any - will be. We may end up getting beaten up like the Patriots rough up NFL teams. Who knows? But we'll give it a whirl.

Part of the plan was to recruit like-minded writers to the site. Attracting such writers is tough given we're a blog and don't pay. We have to hope we fall on junkies like ourselves who just want to talk about sports. Even when you get an enthusiastic "yes" it's tough to get anyone to post articles with any regularity. It's normal. We all have our own sites and there are so many hours in a cloudy or sunny day.

None of this is a problem. It's the reality of blogging entrepreneurship. However, we have observed a special breed of writers out there who - shall we say? - miss the point.

On a couple of occasions we stumbled on journalists who moonlight as bloggers. When approached, they immediately ask: how much? They are practically ready to present a contract.
I even came across bloggers who wanted payment!

Isn't this a form of over-rating ourselves a little? Even for journalists this is a but rich. There's a gigantic pool of talent out there. What gives them the impression they are needed?

It's one thing to sell services in the mainstream world. It's quite another to super impose this on the blogging community. Blogging is the latest frontier of free-form writing creativity. Are we ready for the practical world of mainstream media? Sure the lines have already begun and it's a matter of time before we get a mainstream blogging vein. The clash of writing civilizations is inevitable just like the clash of classical Rome and Germanic tribes.

Inter Sports Wire aims to band together a community of high quality sports writers. Nothing more and nothing else.

To ask for payment misses the whole point of the exercise.


A Bugs Bunny Moment

I never realized it before - or maybe I never cared to admit it since he was my hero - but boy did Bugs Bunny deserve a beating some times.

On with your lives. Go.


Montreal Canadiens retire Larry Robinson's #19

One of the greatest defensemen in the history of the NHL is finally getting his jersey retired. Selected three times as a First Team all-star and three times to the Second Team, Larry "Big Bird" Robinson also won the Norris trophy for the league's best defenseman twice (1977 and 1980) and was a runner-up in 1979.

Part of the "Big three" unit that included Serge Savard and Guy Lapointe, Robinson was part of the legendary and dominating Habs dynasty of the 1970s that won four straight Stanley Cups. Robinson won a total of fours cups (as well as one as coach with the New Jersey Devils in 200) participating in 227 playoff games.

Forget all that. No one messed around with Robinson to boot. Yeah, the Big Bad Bruins and Broadstreet Bullie were mauling the league, but Robinson put a few of those bums in their place with a punch or body check.

The only unfortunate thing to all this is why the Montreal Canadiens waited so long to retire his number? Not to mention Bob Gainey's #23 which they will also have a ceremony for.

They let the entire 1990s go by plus most of the 2000s. It wasn't until intense lobbying did they decide to do so. No one from the organization ever explained their reasoning- good luck trying to get them to return your calls or emails.

On this front, someone made a mistake. At least they got around to it.

Note to Nicolas Sarkozy...

Don't break in the face of the unions.

And can you muzzle Raymond Domenech?


Ugly Canadians at sporting events becoming too common?

What follows is an edited version of a letter to the sports editor I spotted in the Montreal Gazette written by Hall of Fame defenseman Brad Park. Emphasis mine.

"I attended the Bruins/Canadiens game here in Boston on Nov. 8...but something bothered me as a Canada. Sitting down in front of me were a number of Montreal fans. It was easy to identify them as they were wearing their bleu, blanc and rouge with great pride. During the Canadian national anthem, the Montreal fans sang loudly and with great pride...When the Canadian anthem was finished, everyone in the building cheered...What came next blew my mind. When the American anthem started, maybe a half dozen of the Canadian contingent sat down and would not rise during the singing of the American anthem. To me, this is unbelievable! Over the years, the world has become aware of the phrase "The Ugly American." We in Canada have always thought of ourselves above this level of contempt. Is this the new Canada, one that I cannot understand?" Is it the new low that we degrade ourselves at a sporting event to protest our culture when we guest abroad? One simple act can reflect on many. If one wants to protest, do it in the proper place. Hockey games and sporting events are not platforms...If we continue to think of ourselves as true Canadians, showing respect is a must!"

First of all, credit must go to Brad Park - a Canadian who now lives in the U.S. - for stepping up and speaking out. Of course, he is correct. I know I've witnessed not only what he describes here but the booing of an anthem (Canadian or American) as well. What's amazing is that these fans decided to do this in Boston.

Is this an exercise in freedom or arrogance?

The hard truth, as I have mentioned before on this blog, is that even abroad we're beginning to see the rise of the "Ugly Canadian."

Brad Park, a five time First Team All-Star and twice Second team, was among the the greatest defensemen in the 1970s. Only Bobby Orr surpassed him with eight First Team selections and one Second Team for a total of nine.*

"Please rise for the singing of the Canadian and American anthems" is a common protocol now. Anthems are no longer perceived as political tools. Sure we can find all sorts of excuse such as we shouldn't sing anthems at sporting events but until that happens stand up and show respect.

*Denis Potvin was also named to seven all-star selections; five of those on the First team. Yes, same as Brad Park. Unfortunately, while Potvin managed to win three Norris trophies for top defenseman (twice runner-up,) Park had the misfortune of finishing second on the ballot no fewer than six times - twice to Potvin and four times to Orr.


Defend Santa Claus! HO!HO!HO!

I thought it was a joke. I really thought it was a joke. I wanted it to be a joke.

But it isn't.

It seems a company in Australia called Westaff wants to change 'Ho, ho, ho' to 'Ha, ha, ha.' Read the above link for the full story. Here's one quote from a manager:

"The reason behind that is we find that in some cases the little kids can get a little bit scared of the deep ho, ho, hos and we ask them to be mindful of keeping their voices to a lower level," he said.

"And kids are probably more inclined to understand `ha, ha, ha', than `ho, ho, ho'."



As I have said in the past. Way too many questionable minds are in positions of power.

The sad thing is that some boob in Canada probably thinks this is a swell idea and will import the idea.

You know, if this keeps up we'll probably have to deny Jesus and remove Christmas altogether.


Death in Vancouver airport incomprehensible

My wife and I were sitting and watching the news last night when the report came that an unarmed Polish citizen sadly died following being shocked with a Taser by police.

We witnessed for a few minutes an obviously frustrated and incredibly agitated individual lash out as a brave woman tried to calm the man down. Eventually, police came and within a few moments Tasered him.

Just like that. They seemed a little taser-happy to us.

We were speechless. Four officers and they had to do that? We always appreciate the work and sympathize with men in uniform but this incident left us confused if not angered.

Why did they have to Taser him? Did he threaten them? Though that would be hard to determine since he spoke no English. Did any of the officers speak Polish? Why was a woman able to confront him peacefully and temporarily soothe him while officers had to Taser him and then hold him to the ground while he convulsed? What if he was emotionally distressed? In this day and age where autism is on the rise, should they not be more prudent?

Something is not adding up. From the footage I saw, the police gave very little chance to intervene professionally. It seems to people watching, this could have been avoided.

The Vancouver airport and its security has some explaining to do also. The guy was roaming around for 10 hours.

There are so many questions to be answered both from the airport and the police. There had better be a good explanation for why police used excessive force in the death of Robert Dzeikanski.

In the process, Canadians should demand we bring justice to this man and his family.

More on Reasonable Accommodation

For those of you concerned what is happening in Quebec - or what's been unleashed by the 'Reasonable Accommodation" debates follow this link. It's in French so brush up. Chop, chop.



Soccer in India

Interesting piece on Indian soccer. Thanks to soccer-source.blogspot.com for this.

We're seeing more and more pro teams stake their claims in far away places now. For example, the Red Sox and Yankees have a presence in Asia now. It remains to be seen whether English teams decide to go into India.

Former title holders of the Asian Cup in 1951 and 1962, Indian soccer is nowhere near cricket or field hockey in terms of popularity. I guess it's akin to soccer here in North America. However, given its massive population, one would figure that a decent soccer team can be carved out.

FIFA clearly has some interest as the following link to Forbes shows.


History is on the run:The National Capital Commission is wrong

I must profess I never heard of the The National Capital Commission before. From what I read they are celebrating the 150th anniversary of Ottawa being capital of this country. Take that Kingston!

In this country, we have taken the horrible habit of rewriting our history lest we offend people. Not a wise reason to make such amendments of great importance. This is a sure sign, in my opinion, of an incredibly immature society incapable of facing its own history.

The latest long dead public political figure to raise the ire of some is the British Whig John George Lambton - aka Lord Durham. Aka Radical Jack.

A talented politician, Durham was made governor-general of all British North America and was sent by the British government to survey Canada (as well as the United States) on the heels of the 1837 Patriotes rebellion. While British merchants were asking for greater control in the economic affairs of Lower Canada, the government felt it was time to act.

Durham's committees consisted of opponents of les Patriotes, he consulted with Upper Canadian reform leaders and he penned his own observations of life in the colonies. The Patriotes rebellion was not exclusively made up of French-Canadians nor was it exclusively a cultural rebellion. Rather it was made up of many nationalities including British who demanded responsible government.

The good Lord was then made famous by the Lord Durham's Report on the Affair of British North America in which he had the audacity to proclaim that Canada was "two nations warring within the bosom of a single state." (1838)

The report had three main components: 1) greater self-government for the colonies, 2) responsible government and 3) the union of the two colonies known as Upper and Lower Canada.

The third being by far the most controversial among nationalists. By his estimation, French culture in Quebec was stagnant and made little progress during the previous two centuries.

He concluded that ethnic rivalry was counter productive and recommended the union of Upper and Lower Canada. The thinking was to overwhelm the French advantage in Quebec. He further proposed that any freedoms and protection French-Canadians enjoyed under the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Quebec Act of 1774 should be over turned.

In other words, assimilate the bastards.

The reaction against the Durham Report found its strongest voice and expression in Louis-Joseph Papineau with Histoire de l'insurrection du Canada first published in the magazine Progrès and later La Revue canadienne as Histoire de l'insurrection du Canada en réfutation du Rapport de Lord Durham (History of the insurrection of Canada in refutation of the Report of Lord Durham).

The recommendation of the Union did not happened until Durham's successor did so in 1840 in what eventually became known as the Act of Union of 1840. For better or for worse, this signified a new direction for a country called Canada.

Ok. Enough of this. I don't want this to turn into a Durham slug fest. I almost forgot my point.

The history of any nation is bound to have acrimonious incidences that certain segments of a population are sure to have an opinion on. However, it is a part of the history and conscience of a nation.

But don't tell this to CEO of the NCC Micheline Dube who awkwardly stated, "The NCC acknowledges that the recommendations put forth by Lord Durham at the time are considered inappropriate for many and certainly controversial. We in no way intend to offend anyone and have subsequently removed the panel in question."

That panel being a a historic panel dedicated to Lord Durham.

Break out the liquid paper!

Absolutely shocking stuff. Could you imagine little revisionist committees, armed with red pens, myopically taking things out of context by making adjustments to various histories?

It's a bizarre state of affairs in this country. On one side we have a weak sense of history on the other we have nationalists and activists seeking to imprint their visions of this country.

The result? Well, antics like we have seen with the NCC.

It's a disgrace to Canadian history period. These people are not fit to preserve the identity of this country.

So. When will some jackass step up and ask that the Plains of Abraham be removed from history museums and textbooks? Should we take a look at the long list of questionable revered French-Canadian historical figures and demand they be removed from our metros under the guise of citizens being offended?

Why stop at the NCC? We have bigger fish to fry!

Example of Corporate bullies and complict bureaucrats squeezing consumers?


So. Just how free are Canadian consumers? Nothing like a soaring loonie to show just how much corporations can play subtle games with its clients. If Transport Canada, Honda and Toyota are in on the scam telling ME where I can purchase MY products then they leave me little choice but to exercise MY right to never buy from them.

The problem, of course, is what if all the car manufacturers are doing this? That makes us lame sitting ducks.

To be perfectly honest, that Canada would do this does not surprise me.



It is the VETERAN , not the preacher,
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the VETERAN , not the reporter,
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the VETERAN , not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the VETERAN , not the campus organizer,
Who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the VETERAN , not the lawyer,
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the VETERAN , not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

- John McCrae

Note: Picture on the headline of this site is the Somme.


Hassan Almrei denied bail

Is Hassan Almrei, who entered Canada with a false passport, a terrorist? Or a person who finds, shall we say, comfort with radical ideologies?

Is this another Arar case?

Tough to say but as of 2007 - this piece was originally posts in 2005 - the courts and CSIS still feel he's a threat to national security and he's been held in a Kingston jail now in his 7th year.

He was arrested under the national security certificate law which has been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The conservatives are expected to table a new version of the law in the fall. The flaw in the previous law was that suspects were arrested without a chance to defend themselves.

Is this an example of government and law enforcement learning the ropes on the fly of how to deal with an invisible enemy?

My question is that while he is getting support from people like Alexandre Trudeau, Linda McQuaig and Stuart McLean, do people acknowledge there are terrorist cells operating in Canada?


New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts television ratings through the roof


I know. Old news. Still. Fascinating. 22.5 rating for a regular NFL game? Baseball gets, what, 2.5 to 5 depending who's playing? Hockey is lucky if it gets one.

Any questions as to which league dominates all of North American professional sports?

Article of interest: Science: Global Warming from the Center for Inquiry


This is a compelling report about the need to face global warming straight on.

Soccer Statistics

Check out these goals per game averages (2002-2006) for the "Big Five" European soccer leagues:

1) Netherlands 2.97
2) Germany 2.86
3) Italy 2.60
4) England 2.59
5) Spain 2.58

You are free to interpret this as you wish. Betcha didn't think Spain would be last or that Italy would be ahead of England? As any fan of Serie A would tell you, the idea of that league being defensive is somewhat outdated now.


For Shame: Where are the Poppie's?

Every year the number of people wearing a poppie becomes less and less visible.

The month of November is one designated to remembering our fallen soldiers.

However, as I have mentioned in the past, the number of people taking the time to carry a poppie as a symbolic gesture is sadly dwindling. It escapes me how we do so.

I live in Quebec so I get to see how the two solitudes deal with Remembrance Day on the 11th of this month. Most on the English-speaking side seem to have an unquestionable respect for soldiers. On the French side, things get a little more theoretical.

One need only to observe what I mean. In places with high concentration of Anglos, the number of poppie's seen rises. In Franco areas they become more sparse. In areas with new immigrants the poppie is absent. What connection does a Muslim from Algeria have with North Americans fighting Nazi's or Imperial Germany right?

This is not to say French-Canadians don't observe the 11th I'm sure many do, but if they had their way the act as though they wouldn't have this day despite the high number of French-Canadians who served n the military during the Great Wars.

Regardless, I see a drop across the board in any language or culture.

On television it becomes even more glaring. RDS sports broadcaster's to their credit all carry the poppie. Athletes understand the notion of team spirit, sacrifice and identity. So we shouldn't be surprised.

It is on the news networks where things become odd, if not unacceptable. From what I have seen on Radio-Canada (CBC which is a nationally funded station), RDI and other news outlets, very few if anyone is wearing a poppy.

So why the cold shoulder?

It's probably ideologically driven. Quebec has a certain way of looking at things. We all know this and this is fine. In fact, this country could use different ideas from time to time that come from here.

However, in this instance Quebec could not be more wrong. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for not doing things and other times they are plain excuses.

Of course, the prevailing belief is that Quebec did not want to go to fight an Imperial war on behalf of the British Empire. It was only after conscription were we forced to enlist and serve. Ergo, to nationalists they are taking a political stand.

Therein lies the problem that has gripped this society for decades: the politicization of every facet of our lives.

Perhaps they (soldiers) were sent into the hell halls of Europe unwillingly. No one asks them (nationalists) to forget this. The point is that they served. How can this be denied?

Quebec intellectualism is predicated on politics. Its beginning and end points revolves around every political angle. The process of intellectualism independent of political outlooks is absent.

That Quebecers reduced the sacrifices and deaths of their brethren to a mere political calculation is indeed unfortunate. The wanton dismissal and denial in their historical memory of our soldiers is most ungenerous.

It is also plain ignorance for a society that claims "to remember" (Je me souviens), just how wrong (and quite possibly ungrateful) we can be.


CBC gets a new President

Is the line "The first thing we do let's kill all the lawyers" meant to be a derogatory remark towards lawyers?

I'm not an expert on Shakespeare but I've always found it odd out how we tend to look upon lawyers with a smug "they are a necessary evil."

We all say we hate lawyers...until you need one.

Where am I heading with this? The CBC just named its new President (and CEO) and guess what? He's a Quebec-based lawyer.

Quick word on the CBC. Why do we go into the private sector to find someone to run a public corporation? Shouldn't people with public broadcasting experience be running the CBC? Can people who work on the private side become "public" that easily?

Public corporation. Now there's an oxymoron. Given that in recent years the CBC acts more like a private broadcaster, is it not time them to privatize the CBC?

The CBC's appointment should not surprise anyone. Canada has a long tradition of having lawyers in high positions. Indeed, they often become Prime Ministers.

Of course that our leadership comes from one portion of society can be a source of concern. The country should not be run by lawyers. Law is just one aspect of cultural critical thinking and intellectualism. No wonder Canada is run by the Charter these days.

But don't tell all this to the Conservatives. Prime Minister Stephen Harper bucks the trend in that he's an economist with a strong sense of history. Which makes him an artist in many ways.

In fact, he's the first PM since Pearson to not have attended law school.

And that's fine by me.

Montreal Canadiens have the best logo in the NHL


Tel me something we didn't know! As far as this tournament went, it makes perfect sense that the Chicago Blackhawks made the final only to lose to the Habs - like usual. Boo-hoo-hoo!

Kidding aside, notice in the first round the Detroit Red Wings lost to the....Dallas Stars? In fact, I have no idea who thinks the Blue Jackets, Lightning, Sharks and Panthers should have been in the top 16. They shouldn't be ahead of the Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils or Philadelphia Flyers.

In this commentator's opinion the Wings have one of the best jersey's in hockey - as do all the Original Six teams.

Oh by the way, did anyone catch Mike Komisarek introducing his team in French last night at the Bell Center? Of course not, if you weren't there or didn't watch the game the media didn't report it.

And for the record, Bertrand declared himself "satisfied" What a pinhead.



Article: Global Warming

Here's yet another article on Global warming.

I tend to post pieces that take a skeptical view on the subject because I think the argument in the affirmative is well entrenched.

I find it hard to believe or accept that global warming activists don't have their share of exposure. After all, governments are changing laws to combat it. People are winning all sorts of grants and awards based on it. Actors have taken up the fight.

No. I think the pro-global warming crowd are pretty much in control now.

That doesn't mean the debate is closed.

Interesting facts about television ratings

Not sure what to make of this - I ain't no television exec - but there's probably an interesting trend in there somewhere.

As football fans are preparing for the epic showdown (the so-called Super Bowl 41 1/2) between the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts (which the Pats will win), I heard somewhere that the game will probably draw higher television ratings than some past Super Bowls. That's huge stuff.

So I checked out the all-time top rated TV programs. 22 out of the Top 50 were Super Bowls plus an NFC Championship game. Clearly, football dominates the list. The next closest thing was "Roots" with 7 placings.

However, this is not what caught my eye. It was the breakdown of how many programs were listed by decade that interested me. Here's what I found:

1960s - 7 programs
1970s- 21
1980s- 16
1990s - 8
2000s - 1

That the 70s leads the way makes me wonder if the quality of programming was that good or were people just that much more easier to keep on their couches? In any event, I have no clue what the story is on the 60s but clearly from the 70s onwards there's a steady decline in mega-programming. The 90s were just the beginning of the tech revolution which explains why the numbers dipped significantly.

However, notice the number of programs from this century. With two years to go, it looks like this decade will have the lowest number of shows with high ratings since the 60s.

Are indeed just continuing the tech boom? Will online sources be growing in stature as a result? Is it increasingly hard to keep people in front of their sets with the arrival of new technology such as the Internet, iPods, podcasts and yes blogging? Are people simply finding other things to do? Are we way too niched out to be herded anymore?

Brian Williams? On Saturday Night Live? Why not?

No matter what we're watching on Saturday nights, the channel always finds it way to Saturday Night Live. We're not dedicated fans by any stretch of the imagination but SNL has probably cornered the "curious about SNL" market. In other words, we tune in to check out who the host is and the first few skits and out we go.

Last night, as I was watching hockey I switched to NBC at 11:29pm and by 11:33pm (time not exact but it looks good. It gives the impression I took notes) we find out NBC anchorman Brian Williams was the host.

Apparently there was a debate about whether this was a good idea or not. I don't see why not. It showed a different side to Williams - one that was,well, pretty funny. I suppose the NBC brass wanted to "loosen" his image a little. Wasn't he on Jon Stewart?

As for SNL, it could have been a good idea to bring Ron Burgundy in for a skit.

In any event, people don't understand how the media works. Anyone with half a brain would see that this was a cynical plot to take over the SNL Weekend Report.