Lawyer Guy Bertrand wants respect. Is he looking in the right place for it?


Does the fate of Quebec lie in the hands of this man to our left? Is he violating the rights of Quebecers? "To respect the right of Quebecers to be served in French," as he so eloquently put it.

Yes. This from a man who switches more ideological positions than nymphs at a swinger's party. Best to recall that Bertrand once defended the "rights" of the Rwandan maniac Leon Mugesera. Funny that guy; that he would speak of human rights.

That Guy "The Big Gel and Tan' Bertrand found a comforting friend in Pauline 'The Big Poutine' Marois regarding his recent rant can only solidify the credibility of its contents.


It's easy to laugh off his comment but does he have a point?

Yes, I'm afraid he does however distasteful it may sound. I don't agree with it but somewhere nestled in this little petty and parochial article is a point.

But enough of that. I can't possible defend this guy or his apologists.

Should Koivu learn some French? Why not? After all, a large portion of the Montreal hockey marker speaks it. However, I don't think the average French-Canadian would be overly concerned about this. Mr. Bertrand uses is offensive language - excuse the pun - to say the least. That he demands Koivu "serve him" is a most unfortunate way to get people to respect you and your language.

I'm just saying.

At this junction I'd like to make my own point. If you're Saku Koivu (man, his name resembles Haiku) and you're reading this what possibly could make him want to learn French now? How does this attract people to the language? What if he simply is not comfortable with it?

French, for the record, is a language that is not in the best of shape to begin with among French-Canadians themselves. Heck, my French is not where it should be. Shouldn't Bertrand and his cronies first find a way to teach it properly to Quebecers first? What if Saku Koivu was deaf? Would it be such an issue?

Character assassination as we see so often in this belle province is the refuge of a person sans politesse.

Come to think of it, it is funny. After all, he's a hockey player.

On to the article and a comment he made that caught my eye.

Bertrand says, "Several people have told me this would not happen in Finland, or in Italy," Bertrand continued. "In soccer if you play for Italy, you have to learn the language."

First, this isn't Italy. This is Canada within a North American framework. We're in a different situation here. Montrealers are bilingual and choose to do so. Get over and used to it. Montreal is the only place that keeps this place from losing its progressive mind completely.

Second, his comment is not exactly true. While there is no doubt that learning the language and customs of a team you play for is a good idea no one forces (or shames) an athlete to do so.

As far as I know, AC Milan is the only club in Italy that goes up and beyond the call of duty to ensure that a foreign player is welcomed and made part of not only AC Milan's culture but the Italian one as well. They strongly encourage players to learn Italian.

In this light, do the Montreal Canadiens take the steps to ensure their athletes are made to feel comfortable here in the same manner AC Milan does? Seems to me given Quebec's distinct situation this would only make sense.

Since we live - and here's the kicker that seems to go over the heads of some - in a supposed free society all action is voluntary. It's called free will. Koivu exercised his right.

As if any of this is all new. Remember former Montreal Expos star Vladimir Guerrero refused to speak English in public? Personally, it wasn't an issue as long as he performed and helped the Expos win games. I feel the same way about Koivu. Let him play hockey. After all, that was his mandate. Alas, some politicians see things slightly different.

In any event, doesn't Quebec have bigger problems to attend to than to go after hockey players?

One last thing, Saku Koivu has done much for the community. He helped bring in MRI's because this country is in a health crisis and fails to have adequate number of machines. He helps cancer patients and has been inspiration to them.

What HAVE YOU DONE FOR YOUR COMMUNITY, MR. BERTRAND? Or anyone else for that matter who has attacked him in the past.

Is this an example of a heartless bank? You decide


I wasn't a loan officer at the bank, nor am I privy to any discussions between the two parties in this case. So my expertise, like on many matters, is limited here. However, it does seem as though there was some miscommunication. I must confess that perhaps the client should have set aside emergency cash. The terms seem rather explicit but I wasn't there.

The one question that can be asked is if the bank's reaction was excessive - which seems to be the case and wouldn't surprise me. Again, I can't conclusively make any comments on this. Nonetheless, it still merits a post since we can all learn from what could happen if we make a mistake on a loan agreement with a bank. If you sign, you're responsible.

I'm wondering if there was a better way to deal with this. Though banks are not generally into diplomacy on such matters.

Reminds me of a scene in Goodfellas when Henry Hill (portrayed by Ray Liotta) was explaining the mafia's version of an installment payment plan: "Fuck you, pay me."


Irrational Accommodation

The Bouchard-Taylor commission on reasonable accommodation is not the only sideshow in town here in je me souviens la belle province.

Not to be outdone, the commission has coincided with recent anti-democratic rhetoric coming from the political classes.

-The leader of the nationalist Parti Quebecois party Pauline Marois suggested that immigrants should pass a French test as a prerequisite to get Quebec citizenship. This proposition is akin to the state of California asking Mexicans to pass an “English” test to become official Californians - not that Californians have this kind of power like Quebec does given it has control of its immigration policy.

Tell you what. She should first take an IQ test. Better yet, given the state of French among Quebecers themselves maybe she should give the test to Quebecers first?

-Someone suggested that the Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms be amended to not include religious rights. If not, he opined that the provinces should separate from Canada. Nice one.

-The province’s immigration minister is said to have tabled a proposition that would “force” new immigrants to live in francophone communities so as to make the assimilation process quicker – and painless no doubt. The first two we can understand, they come from elements of the political class that is noted for such talk. The third one comes by way of a black female representing the Liberal party. Jean Charest and his aimless stiffs should be proud.


Call it what it is: justified racial and linguistic politics. Quebocracy is alive! Look, I'm no fan of what's going on but a little common sense please. Tyranny of the minority does seem to prevail but surely there are other options to consider? Doesn't anyone think things to their logical end anymore? Forget the political baggage that defends these comments. On their own merits, these are acts that run against the principles of pluralism, progressiveness and the type of democracy we want.

Think about where all this can lead. They say Bill 101 was a smashing success. No it wasn't. It was a civil liberties disaster. On the surface it achieved its stated objectives. On a more profound level it destroyed our democratic sensibilities. It dulled our senses of what freedom is. Bill after bill set to protect one culture at the expense of others. This is not democracy but cultural totalitarianism.

This province has officially lost its mind.

With accommodations like these who wants to live among these people and this type of rhetoric?

It's interesting. Never mind immigrants, last night over dinner we discussed how unwelcome even those of us born here feel. We have lost our fight.

More on this in the next post.


NHLsuspensions: 20 games, 25 games. Do I hear 30?


I don't expect an excessive suspension. Unless the NHL what's the send a permanent message.

The Philadelphia Flyers don't seem to be getting the message. Remember the dumb kid in grade school who failed phonics? That's what the Flyers are imitating.

Yet again the wannabe tough team is in the center of a storm as Randy Jones hit Boston Bruins star forward Patrice Bergeron from behind. Into the boards his face went. Out cold with a broken nose and without feeling in his legs, Bergeron was taken off on a stretcher.

Weenie. This is hockey not soccer! In the old days players would shrug it off, take a stitch or two, grab a wheel chair and back they came.

Incidentally, Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Kovalev hit Pittsburgh Penguin forward Evgeny Malkin from behind. Darn it. Nothing happened to Malkin. Lucky him.

To be clear, the Jones hit is not one of the worst hits I've seen. Indeed. hockey experts have been explaining the nuances "of how the intention of a clean hit can turn cheap." The only problem is that it's a hit from behind when the player is not expecting it.

So what about the Philadelphians? Jones is not known to be a dirty player and expressed immediate remorse. Sure thing. It's like when we hear on the news how the neighbour who snapped was known as "quiet" and "friendly."

In today's NHL, the dirty hits keep-a-comin'. At what point does it cross from coincidence to the norm?

I run the risk here of sounding like a bleeding heart pansy liberal but hey I never said I was brave. What was once dismissed as "part of the game" is now upsetting not only hockey fans but NHL players themselves. The culture of "this is how hockey is played" is on a collision course to break someone's neck out on the ice. I didn't know hitting from behind is "how hockey is played."

The fact is that today's NHLers are bigger and faster than they have ever been. Not only that, since the league has pretty much enacted rules that prevent players from policing themselves like real men, players often approach the game knowing full well there won't be any consequences. The rats run the icedom now.

While this has little to do with the Jones hit, once upon a time a hook check used to slow players down. Today, you can't touch a player with your stick. Players complain, coaches complain. It's like soccer.

Result? Players pick up speed in the neutral zone or their own defensive end and barrel into an opposing player top speed.

Scary stuff.

Ever play shinny at a local rink? Ever play against a guy (let's describe him as French-Canadian, with no teeth and a twinkle in his eye for fun) who recklessly skated at top speed straight up the middle life's caution be damn? What happened? You got out of the maniacs way. Or if you were a player with a history of making poor judgment calls you would decide to stand pat. Crack!

Whatever, not everyone can skate at a high level and to see someone come at you at excessive speeds can be intimidating.

The NHL has a new type of problem on its hands and they to nip this one in the bud.

The other day people were calling in talking about the horror of Bruins 6'8'' defenseman Zdeno Chara bloodying the nose of Chicago Blackhawks tough guy 6'6'' David Koci of The "take fighting out of hockey" group were front and center on that one. That's UFC stuff right there. At least, they entered a gentleman's agreement to batter each other.

Stuff like this offends less than what we've seen with Downie, Boulerice and now Jones is just plain cheap.

The NHL will surely review this play and once again Paul Holmgren will have have his Costanza moment and sit like a school boy in trouble in front of Colie the Disciplinarianator.

Colie: "So Paul. We meet again. It's come to our attention your team pulled another one."

Paul: "Was that wrong? I gotta tell ya. I hafta plead ignorance on that one."

Note: Jones got two games. He should have got more. 5-10 would have been more appropriate.

Sports Stats Corner

I was watching the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies play in the the 103rd World Series (aka Fall Classic) the other night while reading some franchise statistics.

Here's what I came up with:

Did you know that in 103 World Series editions, the New York Yankees (AL) and St. Louis Cardinals (NL) reached the World Series finals 56 times? I chose these two teams because they have won more titles than anyone else.

New York reached the finals 39 times and St.Louis 17. That means baseball have seen the Cardinals and Yankees 54% of the time. More importantly, they have won 36 titles (NYY 26; STL 10) or 35% of the championships.*

The number increases further when we add the Los Angeles Dodgers who have reached more finals than any team - except of course the Yankees - 18 times. Of course, these figures include the Brooklyn playing days before they moved to L.A in the mid-50s.

So between the Yankees, Cardinals and Dodgers three teams have reached the finals 74 times (72%). Staggering.

In terms of titles, the Dodgers have won six World Series. Thus, if we add to the 36 already won by the Cards and Yanks, it brings the title to 44 (43%).

You do the math on the San Francisco Giants (originally from New York like the Dodgers franchise) who reached the finals 17 times and won five times.

For their part, if the Boston Red Sox win (and it looks as though they will) the World Series, they will go 7-4.

*The Cardinals who a 3-2 edge over the Yankees in World Series action.

Article of Interest: Politics: War


The above link brings you to a piece on the subject of irregular warfare in The Economist titled After smart weapons, smart soldiers.


Dems Frightenin' Fightin' Words

That the Parti Quebecois are filled with political intellectual deadbeats needs no explanation. However, lately their talk has increasingly become bold in its anti-democratic tone.

It's easy to shrug them off but if we claim to be a vigilant, vibrant democratic and pluralistic society it is the PQ, Mr. Pierre Curzi, that needs to evolve.

The PQ and its flunkies will never achieve their dream (nightmare to moderates) through democratic means. It's not surprising they flirt with attacking civil liberties "for the greater good"of their agenda. Call their cultural war rhetoric for what it is: corrosive. This should disturb all Quebecers.

The PQ seems bent on wanting to piss us off enough so that there will be a second great exodus as we saw in 1976 and this time it will include the "allophones" and progressive French-Canadians. If Montreal fell to its knees back then, does it stand to reason that the next coup de grace will flatten this city?

I declare right here: I dare you.

When I read stuff like I always ask, "Why are we here?"



Kids just want to be adults

Kids are in a hurry now.

I don't know about some of you, but have you not observed a slight proliferation of teens (I'm talking 13-16 range here) and pre-teens (aka tweenagers) consuming caffeine based drinks? A teacher and a spa owner were telling me that kids as young as 15 are also getting Brazilian waxes - whatever that is. Coffee, Brazilian waxes, skanky clothing...gosh I feel so naive.

As if things are not bad in our classrooms, students waltzing in with text messaging devices, sunglasses to big for their heads, flip flop sandals and plastic Tim Horton ice cappuccino's (I doubt they are buying decaf) are the last thing educators need. I can just imagine Lil' Jane and Timmy, who already suffer from a wide variety of ailments on the autism disorder spectrum, at the chalkboard trying to solve a math problem jacked on espresso.

At least I was naturally high-strung. I didn't have my first espresso until I was 18 when I went to Italy.

Kids want to be treated like adults but without the experience or wisdom.

Hey, we have conspiracy theorists masking as historians and political pundits on TV (while pretending they know the truth but are being censored) living a lucrative lie so should we be surprised by kids daylighting on their lunchbreaks as grown ups?

Are parents paying attention?

And here I am wanting to be a kid forever.


Sports Comments: F1, New England Patriots, Toronto and the NFL

Movie fans will recall, in "The Magnificent Ambersons" George eventually got his "comeuppance."

Yesterday, the entire McLaren team got theirs. In the most improbable of scenarios Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen - thanks to his victory in Brazil - earned his second World Driver's Championship. Teammate Felipe Massa finished second while Fernando Alonso came in third. Ferrari were annointed constructor's champions in light of spygate.

Of course, 2007 will go on record as being the most controversial and bizarre seasons in racing history. The year had it all internal dissention, intrigue and deceit. Hey, see I told you. It's not only the NBA, NHL, MLB and the NFL that go through the soap-opera tunnel. Europeans are familiar with it as well with cycling, soccer and racing. No sport is spared of controversy it seems these days.

Given the theft of Ferrari's intellectual property by McLaren, this was a just result.

-So. What will the "devastation scale" look like by the time the New England Patriots are done? Wow. It's been a long time since sports fans have witnessed such outright dominance. I...love...dynasties. Bring back Rome and Britain dammit!

-Last, in the "thoughtless comment category" we head to Sportsnet. Canadians - well Torontonians - are giddy with the prospect of the NFL coming to Canada. It seems the NFL is apparently looking into having Toronto host some games at the expense of the Buffalo Bills.

Poor Buffalo. Not only are they "always a bridesmaid but never the bride" but they are in perpetual danger of losing their beloved sports franchises: the Sabres and Bills. They are a combined 0-6 in Stanley Cup and Super Bowl finals.

Anyway, if the NFL would ever come to Canada - and it still remains a long shot - the implications for the CFL would be great. With the CFL being the perfect tool for all things nationalist I would imagine politics - as in Ottawa - would get involved and make things difficult. Canadians are justifiably attached (even though they don't always show it. I still think that if the NFL offered to annex the CFL outright most Canadians would accept the offer) to the CFL and the loss of Toronto would probably spell the end of the league as a viable commercial enterprise - or at the very least weaken it significantly.

With this background, in a conversation about the NFL coming to Canada with an American NFL insider the hostess closed the topic by saying, "Good news for Canada."

Make that good for Toronto. It is good news on one end but it's terrible news for the CFL. I think she should have chosen her words wiser.

I'm just saying.

Twelve former U.S. Captains speak on Iraq.

This comes by way of Foreign Policy:



Article of Interest: Politics: Turkey, America and Armenia

Read it in The Economist here.

The criticism that has followed Nancy Pelosi's proposal to pressure Turkey into acknowledging the Armenian massacre nearly a century ago, is justified. It strikes less as a proposal of morality and one rooted in petty partisanship and poor politics.

Is this her idea of enlightened diplomacy?

Turkey is way too important an ally to upset at this time.

The Johnson Commission concludes its findings

The Johnson Report examining the de la Concorde overpass tragedy has come down hard on the government for “widespread negligence" and "generalized irresponsibility."

There's a surprise.

The commission, headed by former Premier Pierre-Marc Johnson also scorned engineers at Transport Quebec responsible for the fiasco for their “intellectual lack of curiosity.”

The consequence of all this is that it came at the expense of public safety.

Now what? Among its proposals, the report estimates it will take $500 million to 40% of Quebec's 12 000 highway structures.

The commission has also named and criticized the major players involved. They include; Desjardins, Sauriol & Associes, Inter State (owned by the late senator Pietro Rizzuto) and Acier d'Armature de Montreal (the company that improperly installed the reinforcing bars.) The study further revealed that low-quality concrete allowed for the erosion process to accelerate which eventually led to the bridge collapsing under its own weight.

However, assigning specific blame for the purpose of criminal prosecution will prove difficult.

Sadly, all this could have been averted had Transport Quebec been proactive and more attentive. There were two opportunities to repair the bridge. The first was in 1992 when Transport Quebec was notified that the bridge had sustained significant damage. Transport Quebec's engineer at the time Tiona Sanogo failed to properly execute any repairs according to established standards and codes. The second came in 2004 when Christian Mercier shockingly and spectacularly failed to take advantage of a second warning from another department engineer.

Makes you wonder exactly what their motives were to avoid doing the necessary work; to say nothing of the hiring practices at Transport Quebec.

I could easily turn this into a discussion between the private and public sector but I won’t. Suffice to say that there is a general lack of workman pride in our culture these days.

The three man panel has tabled its recommendations and the government has already moved to make necessary changes by creating a special independent agency. Too bad it took 5 killed and six injured to come down hard on the bastards involved.


What's in a mattress? A Canadian entrepreneur makes you realize more than you think.

For about six months now, my colleague has been doing some internet marketing work for a mattress company. Up until recently, little did I know that the owner of the company is someone I’ve known for a very long time.

It turns out that the mystery friend invented an eco-friendly mattress. Naturally, this struck me as a good entrepreneurial story.

His company Essentia was located not too far from where I live (and where we grew up) and so following week I paid him a visit.

Here’s what I found out about this interesting mattress concept:

-Conventional mattresses emit toxins in two ways: the chemical glue used to piece together a mattress and the chemical used to increase the foam’s expansion.

It is a water-based natural memory foam that has shown to breathe 80% better than the average mattress. Its chemical model fuses foam and latex together without the use of glue. Rather, it chooses to mold each unit individually in its own casing. The process is completely free of toxins.

-Ordinary mattresses don’t provide the support your back needs.

Essentia attains the perfect foam density that allows the mattress to become an extension of the body through an organic or natural process. The benefit to achieving support and compliance for the back is that it increases blood-flow, thus relieving pressure points in the body.

Furthermore, Essentia mattresses are anti-everything - from anti-odour to anit-static to anti-microbial, thanks to the benefits of Sanicare and purifying properties of Lyocell.

-Last, each mattress is handcrafted and engineered carefully.

My friend is an entrepreneur who spent quite a bit of time and money researching and producing a green mattress that was predicated on providing optimum comfort.

I also came out with a brief history lesson – something I always enjoy. I asked him if the concept of a hard bed being good for one’s back was an urban myth. It is. Apparently it is.

The prevailing belief in the 1960s was to make soft mattresses. When that was found to be impractical, the trend reversed itself in the 1970s and 80s to produce hard mattresses. Neither type of mattress was the best recipe. Is “Essentia” the new mattress-paradigm of the 21st century?

It may very well be. I did some snooping around – talking to interior decorators, general contractors, etc. In other words, people who have the ear to the ground when it comes to what people are buying – and found out that a few people had purchased the mattress and were ecstatic about the product. One person even wrote to Jack about the mattresses’ apparent role in helping to cure her insomnia!

After our conversation, it was time to check out the mattress. He first showed me the foam itself. It felt like pizza dough. Aside from having the urge to slap some basil on the sucker, I then lay down on the bed. I almost fell asleep as he spoke - which is surprising given my history of insomnia.

Essentia shows just how far eco-entrepreneurship can go. Clearly, Canadian entrepreneurs are alive and well ready to tackle and change the world even with mattresses.

Now if I can just get a discount…

For more information please visit www.essentiadirect.com.


Al Gore's Peace Prize.

The question is this: have Gore's supporters/followers reduced their imprints yet?

Gore is likely to have a minimal impact on the environment/peace in our time. By this logic, the Nobel Peace prize has now left itself open to the "idea" and "theory" of peace as opposed to concrete action and results.

In any event, "Awards" and "Prizes" are suspiciously (and ridiculously overt in some cases) political now.

Quote for the day

"Excessively smart or exceedingly dumb - neither are exclusively fit to lead." The Commentator


Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Live at Hammersmith Odeon, London '75

It's been a while since I've been moved to write about music. Until now.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed in our nation's capital last night. As usual, Springsteen simply leaves those who see him live speechless.

Rather than talk about the concert in which Ottawa was fully prepared for, I want to write about one of Bruce's live albums released in 2005. Hammersmith Odeon is where Springsteen lost his European virginity.

It was here, in the great metropolis of London, Europe saw for the first time this American; this Yankee on their soil.

My uncle used to tell me Springsteen saved rock and roll. When the context of the era is consulted, in many ways this statement is not exaggerated. He brought rock back down to its roots.

"I have seen the future of rock'n roll and his name is Bruce Springsteen," Jon Landau once famously proclaimed. That night in England, Londoners - who are no strangers to rock'n roll legends - saw these prophetic words play out in the flesh proper. Yes, the night unfolded like like a thunder bolt leaving those who were there in an operatic trance.

Part of the enjoyment, for me, of listening to Hammersmith is in trying to imagine the faces in the crowd that night. Don't forget, Springsteen's sound was very much against the current of the musical times.

Who is this kid? This upstart and his New Jersey- obsessed rhyming lyrics about cars, girls and guitars? Saxophone and piano? My Lord, didn't this guy know that disco and glam rock were the way to go?

A conversation between a couple of lads may have gone something like this: "Hey, Steven, I have tickets to KC and the Sunshine Band and some American - Bruce Some-steen. Which one do you want to go to?"

"We'll probably regret it but let's go check out the kid."

Lucky wise decision. Not only did they witness history, the rest of it is magical history.

After Hammersmith, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were on their way into the annals of the rock and roll folklore.

It's a great record. The sound remarkably crisp. Springsteen fully understood the stakes. He removed the breaks and headed straight for the girl from the inner-lakes. Bruce let loose and untied the noose tightening around his poetic neck that night. The guitar spoke with the roaring sound of an American car. Lightning fast he left London in a cast after the crowd fell over themselves. It's ok. No surgery was required for the injury. Who had time to be hurt anyway? Lost hearts and loose tramps were busy being filled by the wondrous notes from one they would eventually call The Boss.

Him Again: Jean Chretien is out promoting his memoirs

"According to my memoirs, no comment." The Commentator

Former Prime Minister Jean Chretien is out promoting his book and boy does he come out swinging - apparently he did not want to lose "to a bunch of self-serving goons." He especially comes down hard on former PM interloper and wannabe Paul Martin. I really don't feel like rehashing anything he has to say because frankly, to me, the Liberals were and are a bunch of scabs.

However, the one thing that intrigues me about Chretien's publicity stunt is how former leaders have come from the dead to hog the public spotlight in recent times - think that lovable peanut Jimmy Carter and the charismatic hornyman Bill Clinton.

Here's a movie idea: Night of the Presidential and Prime Ministerial Living Dead meet the Paparazzi.

Memoirs can be revisionism of the worst kind.

The question is this: How do people feel about former leaders coming out from retirement to offer unsolicited suggestions and criticisms to current leaders? Is this encroachment? Didn't they get their kick at the can? How do they feel about these memoirs that have become little more than a petty debate between former leaders (Brian Mulroney kicked off the festivities with his book, followed by Chretien, not to be outdone the Nowhere Man Paul Martin is going to be releasing a book shortly.)

In the old days they would have it out in a public square. Now they do it behind a pen.


Spam scum blog too!


Lately, I've been getting one too many of these. Spell check be gone! All glaring errors are in bold for your lousy enjoyment:

I am writting to inform you that your Transfer which was scheduled to take place on Friday the 28th of september 2007 was cancelled due to an error in your receiving Bank Information (notice they never mention where I actually bank), we have tried reaching you on phone on several occassion (I have caller display. How stupid do they think we are? They never called. I would have gladly provided information to a complete asshole) but to no avail, We contacted your Bank in regards to this development but had no help due to language barrier, we had to contact the UK Data Protection Institute for Foreigners (I'm not British) to obtain your email address in order to get this issue resolve as soon as possible.

We therefore advice you to go through your receiving Bank Details writting below and correct any unusual error so that your transfer can commence with immediate effect.

Name and Dept. of Bank: Korea Exchange Bank, BSND
Account No.: 018-JSD-104847-2
A/C Name(Beneficiary): Robert Douman
Swift Code: KOEXKRSE
Bank Address: 181, 2-Ka, Ulchi-Ro,
Choong-Ku, Seoul
South Korea
Postal code: 100-783
Bank Phone No.: ++82 1544 3000
Bank Fax No.: ++82 2 753 9281
Bank Web site: www.keb.co.kr

Your's Sincerely,




A Stop sign is not an option

There's been an inordinate amount of road safety commercials on television over the last few months. Have road etiquette degraded to the point that the government feels the need to remind its citizens on how to observe signs?

The ads would be outright comical if the underlying reality wasn't so sad. Think of it; we're being given a crash course on how to drive on TV and radio! Cartoon mascots are reminding us to slow down, to come to a full stop at a stop sign. It's even gone as far as to explain to people that a yield sign means slow down - not speed up. I don't think Transport Quebec is doing this as public service announcement to ensure things stay in check. No, they probably are concerned.

My question is if the pleasant drawings fail, will they graduate into menacing creatures who threaten society to comply? As for myself, I often imagine myself with a A-91 Disintegrator. A tool of my invention whereby I would be able to aim a fitted hand gun to a car and make it vanish to a part of the city of my choice. Or I could just shoot the tires but that's been done.

It's easy to perceive things are bad on the road. However the ads do confirm that my suspicion regarding thoughtless, arrogant and absent-minded drivers was not that far off the mark. Driving etiquette have progressively worsened in Quebec. It's as if everything is optional now.

How polite and responsible is your road society?

At least Montreal is not alone. Here's a link to the worst cities in the United States.

File Under Pointlessness: Sketches of life

Things you don't want to see: A man grimacing while coming out of a public bathroom stall.

Bad sports jargon: Filled with many terminologies and poor grammar, sports can be fun to single out for ridicule. For example, reports or updates will summarize "Steve McNair is probable for Sunday because of a bad back" or "is doubtful for Saturday because of a bad groin."

Bad back? Bad groin? Bad dog?

What, did the back scream "Fuck off, as it gave out?" Did the groin let out a sinister guitar wail as it popped?

Just wondering.

Liberal or Conservative? Or Liberconselibertutiltarian?

The question asked in the title has managed to make me febrile for the last 20 minutes. Will people look at me funny on the streets if I choose either one? If I say I'm int the middle does that make me indecisive or progressive? What I am going to say to people at a cocktail party? Did I just say cock? Insert Bat-Man dance here.

With my money I am conservative. But some days, weeks or months I am liberal. I alternate. I like to save my money but I also don't mind taking chances in the stock markets.

When cooking recipes call for a "liberal sprinkling of pepper" and I follow does that make me a bleeding heart? If I don't, does that make me a dissident? What if I like a conservative amount of freshly ground pepper?

As a son of a tailor, an Italian tailor at that, I am partial to fine fabrics and attire. I once read a fashion expert explain you are what you wear. Apparently and according to this silky, suave designer a person who wears conservative clothing is actually liberal and adventurous - and vice-versa.

If I'm conservative would I like orgies?

When I was younger I saw myself as a pragmatic and well-adjusted individual not given to hyperbole and took pride in making the right decisions. You know, conservative. I was realistic with an artistic streak- which allowed me to enjoy life - and women.

As a vocation however, I suppressed the artist in me. The bitch never suffocated.

Now, I find myself going artistic with a pragmatic streak. That makes me a hybrid. Yet, I hate hybrid cars and bicycles. I own a racing bike and a mountain bike. Hybrids are like a recess peanut butter cup. Yeah, chocolate and peanut butter are delicious together but I'd rather select each on their own. I can tailor the choice. For example, pure 85% chocolate and sugarless organic peanut butter. The cost is substantially higher but that's free will I suppose.

Some people spend their lives wondering if they are gay or not. Me? I wonder where I fit on the political spectrum and then act aloof to mask my inability to come to any conclusions.

For once, just once I want to be able to proudly and firmly affirm in public that I am, ahem, an anarcho-libertarian-utilitarian - ALU! Whatever that is. But it would make me look smart in front of people who didn't know any better.

In any event and in the end, does it really matter?


Two links worth investigating and pondering

I'm not much when it comes to matters of philosophy - my brain has its limits, ma. If you notice my posts tend to take a wild dip for the stupidity now and then. I like it that way - but this abstract by Dick Rorty intrigued me. It actually helped to make me realize why I felt out of place in University. Everything has become about "systems" and "rules" now. Has anyone noticed what's become of political science? It's a shame that something similar happened in philosophy and literature faculties in the United States. I suspect this has happened here in Canada as well.


Negative Attitudes toward the United States in the Muslim World: Do They Matter?

How's that for an attention grabber?


It's becoming increasingly hard to be The Commentator

Idea for Extreme Swimming:

If the Olympics ever finds itself with ratings dropping for swimming I have one word: piranhas.

Drop those suckers in an Olympic pool and watch world records fall. It's the ultimate survival of the fittest. Darwin would love the idea.

9:15 am conversation with Federal Express:


Fed Ex: "Federal Express Julie speaking how may I help you today"

The Commentator: "Hello Fed Ex"

Fed Ex: "Hello. What can we do for you today?"

TC: "I'm just calling to see what brown can do for me."

Fed Ex: "Brown? Er, sir I think you have us confused with UPS."

TC: "I know. I'm pulling your leg and judging by your voice it must be one long, sensual, sexy limb. Listen I need to Fed Ex myself."

Fed Ex: "Excuse me?"

TC: "Yeah. I'm late for work and need to get my ass to a board meeting by 10 am SHARP!"

Fed Ex: "I- I d-don't understa..."

TC: "I travel light."


TC: "Hello? Hello? Great. Now what am i going to do? Al Gore says I shouldn't use a car or bus and if I hop on my bike it will take me hours to get to work. Hey, I know what. I'll call Gore and see what his solution is."




Think like water when fighting terrorism

Here's an article from the New Yorker on former Senior Counterinsurgency Advisor (I believe he no longer is) for the State Department David Kilcullen.

Note: The article is 8 pages and this post 775 words.

It got me thinking about, of all things, soccer and how it compares to corporations and government. Each possesses practices that no longer necessarily apply in today’s context. Are they capable of moving with the times?

Soccer offers some interesting examples. The game has evolved dramatically since the day they set the rules/laws in 1848. The game is almost unrecognizable today. The significant difference is that soccer - like most professional sports is now a business.

Another aspect that has changed is the influx of foreigners in European leagues. This has had all sorts of massive implications on the game. For brevity purposes, we will superficially touch on on this here.

In soccer, it's important for clubs that have a high percentage of foreigners that reliance on players to conform readily to an existing structure should be limited. In cases where they do not, managers have to think outside the box if they want to communicate effectively in order to achieve the desired results.

There are two methods I suppose to handle a soccer team composed of many nationalities. One is to treat each individual independently while the other is to treat everyone as one. A coach can, for example, scream at a team filled with one nationality and get his point across. This is not so straightforward, nor is it recommended, when your makeup is cosmopolitan.

This all being said, the coach has an option to either devise a system and follow it to a scientific end in which players must adjust - the common goal of the greater good - or he can tailor the system to revolve around the individual personality and character of the player - or a mercenary approach that fosters team unity.

Both methods have their merits. A skillful coach will choose the right path for his squad.

In today’s environment, however, the latter strikes me as more realistic. Athletes are far more complex than they once were.

The swift thinking and clever manager is not afraid to adopt new ideas. There is no set form or dogma to their tactics. They consider everything in their multi-faceted approach including strategy, training, culture, psychology and history. It is a far more evolved and pragmatic method to employ.

Soccer has shown to be willing to change. After a while, it becomes a matter of survival. But what about safe, established companies in no danger of collapsing? These changes become an article a faith; a change predicated on philosophy. The New Economy has produced eclectic companies that value the worker. The Old Economy is still stuck in other era.

Corporate (and I group sports franchises here) and governmental institutions are still top-heavy and hierarchical. Society is becoming increasingly niche-specialized and mercenary-like in its outlook. People today are less willing to be ignored by mid to upper management.

This is exactly what I witnessed at the bank. The high turnover always made me face how absurd how many good workers were allowed to leave. How could it hemorrhage so much talent and still consider itself innovative and customer oriented? I know banks are laggards when it comes to customer-employee-centric innovations but surely, there had to be a better way to maximize employee productivity?

The bank was good at theory-speak but lacked the enlightened structure to implement anything. The corporate boardroom is often the best place for "groupthink" to settle. Oh dear, how many times was I looked at crooked just for asking a question that remotely challenged established corporate orthodoxy.

When I was a mutual funds specialist for a national call center, the “team leaders” would sometimes solicit ideas from the “trenches.” Nothing ever came of it. In fact, they would often choose the least practical solution to a problem. What a way to increase morale! And when morale is low cynicism sets in.

Recall I mentioned what a modern manager does with a diverse squad in soccer. Does this happen, on average in a major and stable corporation? Of course, in soccer only the elite managers with the means have the luxury while the lower to middle table teams generally have other options to consider. However, for our case here, we are using elite clubs and corporations. Corporations are cumbersome. They need to increase their footwork - excuse the low-grade pun.

Independent thought is crucial but not encouraged enough. As far as I can tell, the banks have in fact gone the other way; they have become far too mechanized and rigid in the client-employee-policy triangle. I would argue it is corrosive to that relationship.

Remember the scene on the The Simpsons when Principle Skinner was hitting the "Independent Thought Control" button when faced with Lisa's inquisitive perceptions? If this existed the banks would love to install one.

I was never in government but as far (or near) as I can tell it is also in need of some rethinking. Too many people, like the bank from a past time are in power. If there are young people they are too marginalized to make any impact. Either they should step aside or embrace a new way of thinking; one predicated on cunning agility.

We often hear about how sports have changed for the worse. We also hear this in politics. For example loss of independent thinkers and leaders; the "golden" age of diplomacy is gone. Etc.

Things aren't so simple anymore. As we all know, it's the information age and people are highly mobile. The cubicle worker is long gone. Information is sent at the push of a button to millions and the U.S. (ironically since they invented the Internet) is hopelessly a laughable dinosaur on this front.

Which finally brings us to Kilcullen’s approach to fighting counterinsurgency. His theory seems so obvious it may be taken for being too simplistic. It isn’t. The idea of waging an information war (one of the key elements posited by Kilcullen) in a struggle to defeat insurgents is one the blogging community is certainly equipped to take on. Think of us as the Mafia. Recall that the Mafia were enlisted to protect American harbours during the World War II.

Indeed, none of this is new. However, implementing it will take true courage and wisdom.

Whether in sports, business or government, Sun Tzu's idea of thinking like water is appropriate. Fight like water or be stuck in mud.

Gosh I wish I had time to ponder this all further.

Is The Commentator smarter than a 5th grader?

There's a rumour spreading like a virus that apparently Fox is coming out with a new show. It seems that the standards were to high for contestants on "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" In order to preserve their tenuously mid to low self-esteem the producers have decided to lower the bar and plan to introduce "Are you smarter than a 3rd grader?" As one television exec said, "It's all about the illusion of presenting an intelligent society."

Anonymous interviewer: "So. Commentator. Think you're clever? Stop biting into that package."

The Commentator: "Sorry. I'm hungry. Raisins belong in a box not package."

AI: "It's come to my attention that you may not be smarter than a 5th grader."

TC: "Funny you say that. Back in the day, I was placed in "High" Grade 5. Apparently I was a good student. You had to see the retards in the "Low" side of the track. Losers. Anyway, my prowess for arithmetic was killer successful. I may have been good in English. I forget. I have to pull out my report cards. Strangely, the 5th grade was also right about the time I took a decided educational turn for the worse. My grades plummeted as fast as a seagull spearing fish in the sea. Hmpf. Now that I think of it, that can begin to explain where I am in life right now."

AI: "Any regrets?"

TC: "Nah. My fifth grade teacher was what we termed in the north-east corner of the class "hot."

AI: "Hot?"

TC: "Look, the fifth grade, heck the whole elementary experience was a blur to me. One too many Flintstones tablets if you get my drift. I was jacked on the purple Dino's. At one point I was rubbing it on my arm since it came in a cream format!"


French soccer players convert to Islam


Not sure what to make of this yet though it's not a surprise given France's large Muslim population. Is this the beginning of a trend in France? Is Christianity in that much trouble in France or the West in general? If demographics continue to evolve as they are in France, will it become increasingly difficult to keep Turkey (on the basis of religion anyway) out of the EU?

Save up to 92% at MagazineCity!

Leon Battista Alberti: The Original "Uomo Universale"

"Man is a mortal but happy god because he combines capacity for virtuous action with rational understanding." Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472)

When we think about the Italian Renaissance the names of some of the most important and influential figures in world history fill our imagination. Think Petrarch, Donatello, Ghiberti, Brunelleschi, Massacio, Guicciardini, Macchiavelli, Caravaggio, Rafael, Botticelli and Michaelangelo.

Wondering where da Vinci is on that ridiculously abbreviated list? Wait and fret no more. The humanism of the Renaissance produced two of the most complex and sublime minds in history. One was obviously Leonardo da Vinci and the other was architect Leon Battista Alberti. Together they formed the nucleus of polymathic genius. Through the humanist outlook, they created and cultivated the cult of the genius.

Indeed of the two Alberti is the least known. Harry Hearder put it this way, "it is perhaps a pity that several of his portraits are less well known to the general public...but his notebooks also reveal that he was an engineer, anatomist and botanist. He was a scientist and technologist before society was ready to put his ideas into practice." It was left to da Vinci to do this.

According to scholar and historian Jakob Burckhardt, Alberti excelled in many areas. Said Burckhardt, "Of his various gymnastic feats (he was also a skilled horseman by the way) and exercises we read with astonishment how. with his feet together, he could spring over a man's head" and "He learned music without a master and yet his compositions were admired by professional judges. Under the pressure of poverty, he studied both civil and canonical law for many years, till exhaustion brought on a severe illness."

Burckhardt was not above exaggerations however he did paint - excuse the pun here my friends - a wonderful fresco of Alberti. His description of Alberti leapt into the realm of a demi-god. As if Alberti's practical achievements weren't enough he is said to have predicted the fate of Florence and deaths of many popes!

And just what kept Alberti up at night? For starters, he changed the role of the artist graduating him from mere craftsmen status to one of a philosopher - or at least to one where intellectual skills were necessary. By adding scientific perspective to art he could equate its importance with philosophy and literature.

As if this wasn't enough, Alberti -who was also commissioned to reconstruct Rome by Pope Nicholas V (1447-1455) - was a poet and art theorist as well as dedicated to physics and mathematics, Latin, painting and perspective. Above all, nature is the one subject that moved him to serene inner-peace and it is said that when ill a walk with nature would heal him.

Though he left an indelible mark on art, Giorgio Vasari (1511-74), who argued that historical progress in art reached its peak with Michelangelo, emphasized Alberti's achievements were scholarly and not necessarily artistic: "He spent his time finding out about the world and studying the proportions of antiquities; but above all, following his natural genius, he concentrated on writing rather than on applied work." (from Lives of the Artists).

Alberti was no different than most of the observational gifted people that marked the age. He was empirical (though not quite as thorough as da Vinci.) This respectful treatment (oh how we have lost this lost art and scientific form!) of facts helped him to dissect inquisitively artists, scholars and artisans.

His Breathtaking scope of his abilities led to Alberti writing the revolutionary On Painting:

"Then in 1457, the year when the German Johann Gutenberg discovered his very useful method for printing books, Alberti similarly discovered a way of tracing natural perspectives and effecting the diminution of figures, as well as a method of reproducing small objects on a large scale; these were very ingenious and fascinating discoveries, of great value for the purposes of art." De Pictura 1435 (Della Pittura in Italian).

The first publication discussing architecture during the Renaissance was Alberti's De re aedificatoria (1452, Ten Books on Architecture), a theoretical masterpeice patterned after the De architecture by the Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius (46-30 B.C.).

Another less known but equally important in my opinion was I Libri della famiglia. A book that further reflected and cemented his uomo universale sensibilities as he considered subjects like marriage, education, household management and finance as well as the concept of money.

Among Alberti's smaller studies were a treatise in cryptography, De componendis cifris. Alongside Florentine cosmographer Paolo Toscanelli they collaborated in astronomy - a close science to geography at that time. Not surprisingly he produced a small work on geography, Descriptio urbis Romae (the Panorama of the City of Rome).

What does all this mean for us today? Well, for starters, let us speculate that if he were alive today (along with Newton, Bacon, Gallileo and Dante) he would probably be appalled as well as saddened by the way we treat facts in contemporary society. It may very well remind him of a period in history when alchemy and other pseudo-sciences ruled the earth from the fall of Rome to the birth of Petrarch. In many ways our jealous partisanship and cynical ignorance - which has led to the proliferation of profiteers who swindle an unsuspecting populace- resembles a modern Dark Age.

Add to this list superficial columnists, shallow activist filmmakers, manufactured pop stars, corporate art, unions who retard artistic expression and a general apathy and indifference to art as well as the death of the concept of the civil citizen as further evidence regarding our slight set back.

On the other hand, man has done well for himself since the legacy of the Renaissance. Since that time, we have evolved into a being that humanists expected us to be. Design remains vibrant in many art forms be it in architecture or manufacturing.

In many ways, the latest stage of this evolution left behind by the Ancients and Renaissance humanists lies with the United States. Alberti would not approve of much of what goes on in the U.S. but he would also recognize (and cherish) that it is within its borders men of genius have any chance of expressing themselves free of tyranny.

"Men can do all things if they will."

Sources considered:

Sprezzatura, D'Epiro and Pinkowish (1997)
The Foundations of Early Modern Europe, Rice (1970)
The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, Burckhardt (1855)
Italy: A Short History, Hearder (1990)
A Traveller's History of Italy, Lintner (1995)

Image #2:


Article of Interest: Pauline Marois's swell idea: A Ministry of Sovereignty


Big deal. It's not her money so why should she or her elves care? If this is the best the idea machine can churn in the Part Quebecois bunker....God...help...us...all...

They will keep trying and trying and trying....there should be a Ministry of How to steal taxes, waste money and run a province into the ground. Hey, as long as it's all in French right?

Seriously, what is the impact on all this nonsense on Quebec?

Quebec is no longer a state or province. It's one big gigantic runaway bureaucracy. It is heading towards negative infinity with no worthwhile purpose for the moderate citizen.

Article of interest: Denis Coderre is the last guy I would trust to represent me or my country


All I know, is that the shameless and pointless Coderre is the bored politician who decided to make a Federal case (excuse the pun) of Shane Doan based on scant information or proof. And lo and behold he's a member of the Liberal party.

Article of Interest: An Opinion by Rex Murphy on Hilary Clinton by Rex Murphy



A Hockey Haiku

Saku Koivu
Captain of this haiku -
Wants to play in June

Are you a Micro or Macro debater?

The other night a few of us were discussing the Montreal Canadiens and what possibly could happen for the upcoming season. As we presented (and pretended to be experts) our arguments and thoughts, I observed something: the cranberry-lemon muffins are dee-lish and that some fans (and this goes for any team in any sport) choose to look at things on a micro level and others on a macro level.

The micros are less concerned with the big picture. They consider analytical specifics. They don't mind debating with a certain amount of subjectivity. Why did the coach insert that guy there? Why is this player playing with that player? Why is the goalie looking sluggish? Why does the assistant coach prefer hamburgers to hot dogs? And so on. It's constant examination (nit picking to some) about the day to day operations and daily routines of the hockey club from top to bottom. The media tends to take this position because it breeds controversy. Or at least the more you report the more likely you will stumble on one. The rumour mill also goes into manufacturing overdrive. In a one-trick pony sports town like Montreal this strategy can work very well.

The micros can be a tad neurotic and live, die and identify with the club as if it is there own.

The macros look at the big picture. They are slightly removed from the club. This doesn't mean they lack passion but prefer some level of objectivity - if not realism. It doesn't really matter why a defensemen is being used sparingly. They are not involved in the decision making process. Fans don't know what the general manager, coach and players know. They are not privy to "inside" information (why engage in speculation which is a glorified form of gossip and is not trustworthy?) and perhaps they shouldn't be because it's not the job of citizens. Macros want to make sure the overall direction of the team and club is going in the right direction. After all, with management long gone the Montreal Canadiens will continue to live.

Macros may be the silent majority (or minority?) as they don't tend to (at least this is what I perceive) participate in call-in shows. On the other hand, micro conversations can be mind numbing at times and macro logic doesn't sell papers since it demands patience.

As far as I can tell, you can probably apply this to Iraq. Micros consider every single decision of a current administration and argue from this point forward. Macros are less concerned with this since people are not foreign policy experts. They don't expect the government to tell them everything - there are limits to freedom of information. For security reasons, it only make sense. However, they do trust that eventually time will provide some truths and answers.

Macros are willing to tolerate daily setbacks and successes as part of a process. Micros less so. Micros will point to a current situation and will unfold a path to the future accordingly. Macros will be detached from, say, body counts since it only skews the big picture.

Both are crucial to our understanding of a particular issue or subject.

Of course, they are many who manage to incorporate both but for the most part people do not. Mixed in all of this indeed is partisanship and we tend to let this guide our pessimism and optimism; cynicism and skepticism.

Whatever course politicians use, they will eventually be gone but their imprint can be everlasting or fleeting.

Personally, I tend to lean on the macro side of things.

Either way, the United States and Iraq will continue to move forward no matter who is in power.


Whatever happened to the Wonder Twins?

"Wonder Twins power! Activate!"

"Form of a paper clip!"

"Form of a pan of lasagne!"

Now what?


Royal Bank of Canada 2007 Calendar: Sophomoric Multicultural Extremism

I was staring at the wall where my cousin works with a blank, intense possibly even insane look. "What are you staring at?" he said. "Man, that's a stupid calendar the Royal Bank came up with," I replied as I got up to to examine it. The calendar pandered to every possible stereotype you could think of regarding minorities - though at this point it's become somewhat tiresome if not absurd to describe a citizen of German, Irish, Italian etc. descent as a minority.

The calendar seemed so out of touch; out place and a misreality in its feeble attempt to "celebrate" various cultures and nationalities. There was the Indian lady in traditional Indian attire, jewelry and of course the kunkumam - for you ingrates among us that's the red dot on the forehead. There was the plump I-talian making pizza and well looka what we have here! A throwback to a German I have never seen dressed like those dudes in the Ricola commercials.

I can just imagine the German tourist office offering suggestions to the character-challenged Royal Bank saying, "We need less of him and more of them. You know, to enhance our image." "Hey! That's a great idea!" Thumbs up everywhere.

The calendar is so political correct it's offensive.

Note: I expect a knock on my door shortly for using their logo on this site. Sorry I couldn't peddle some Visas to my readers. In fact, stick around. I have a feeling this will be bank week here at TC HQ.