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!