Thomas Edison Filming Annie Oakley

This is the sort of short film history buffs absolutely adore.

Annie Oakley - who toured with Buffalo Bill - was some dame I tell ya.


Molecular Cuisine

The latest trend in world culinary techniques (with its hub in Spain) is molecular gastronomy.

I'm thinking of inventing molecular blogging.

Foodstamp Nation

46.2 million Americans use foodstamps.

That's, like, a lot of people.

I can just imagine the shenanigans.


Are taxes an "obligation to your fellow man" as someone told me on the weekend?
I'm having trouble with this.

Like, for example:

-If this is true, how does one work around the fact that nearly half of all Americans don't pay taxes? So it's an obligation for half the people and not the other half?

-Why does one have an "obligation" to a fellow citizen? Is it voluntary? Does it include, say, a murderer? What if someone chooses not to give, for argument sake, five dollars to another person?

- Are taxes not 'coercive' (and inefficient) by nature since government can levy them with all sorts of punishment if you don't? How about the issue of tax money going to waste - for example, petty corruption or cost over runs that could have been avoided? Does that obligation have to accept this?

- There's a growing debate about, here in Canada anyway, if we're getting bang for our buck in return when it comes to social obligations - which comes in the form of universal services.


Shafia Murder Trial Ends With Guilty Verdicts

In the aftermath of the Shafia murder trial, discussion on Sharia law coming to Canada are being raised again. Without knowing the specifics as to why they only got 25 years, it strikes me as not enough for such a sad murder.

Personally, I don't think it should ever be accepted. Quebec feels the same way.

Some resources about Sharia in Canada:




Drawing Lines

Not sure if this is the exact quote but it is attributed to Theodore Roosevelt.

"We should insist that if the immigrant who comes here does in good faith become an
American and assimilates himself to us he shall be treated on an exact equality with every one else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birth-place or origin.
But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American and nothing but an American. If he tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin and separated from the rest of America, then he isn't doing his part as an American. There can be no divided allegiance here. . . We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality, and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding-house; and we have room for but one soul loyalty, and that is loyalty to the American people."

Teddy Roosevelt, 1919.

Fall Of Western Civilization Reason #39293944949

Cougar nickname now considered derogatory?

History Spotlight: The Venetian Republic

This is how I spend a Sunday night now.
It used to be with a gal - or two - and playing a sport.

One interesting part of this abstract is a reference to the Crusades and how it related to Venetian trade interests. Too often, I hear people speak of the Crusades strictly as a religious endeavor. Which it wasn't as anyone who properly reads Medieval history knows.

The Venetians were masters at managing profit margins.

Posted by The Doge.

Tax Oxymorons

Tax fairness. Or. Tax efficiency.


It's all arbitrary. If you make X, we will tax Y and over spend what we take. Because we say so.

Harper's Pension Warning And American

Prime Minister Harper made an interesting assetion recently regarding the future of federal pensions.

While some Canadians, judging from the comments threads, are missing the point with strawman logic, using"corporate taxes" as the reason for why it's happening. I think it's more of demographic (our pension  funds are a mess and one of the reasons is that we won't have enough people, hence taxes, to pay for seniors in retirement. I believe once upon a time all you needed was one person to fund 4 retireees. Nowit's something like 3 - someone can correct me here I'm sure) reality the government has known about since the 1960s. Singling out Harper for the pending truth about pensions ignores this truth.

This is why RRSPs were invented. The government wanted Canadians to have a private option retirement plan with an incentive to save. That incentive is to let it grow tax free until an investor drew income from it in the way of a RIF.

It's something I learned during my Canadian Securities Course back in the 90s. It was right there in black and white (between the lines): save your money and don't rely on the government down the line.

Canadians are not net savers and Harper is merely relaying that message.


To me, also, the argument that it's about the neoliberal agenda - which I'm totally against  -  rings hollow a little. Neoliberalism, it seems to this chump, speaks of individual rights without making accounts on how to contribute to the community around you. Libertarianism. even anarchism, don't go as far as to believe man is an island onto himself. They simply believe neighbors will help one another out of self-interest, and even compassion.


Speaking of islands of man, I reject this belief I sense is creeping into our intellectual discussions.

"We're successful because somebody started the University of Michigan. We're successful because somebody made an investment in all the federal research labs that created the internet. We're successful because we have an outstanding military that costs money. We're successful because somebody built roads and bridges. And laid broadband lines and these things didn't just happen on their own. And if we all understand that we've got to pay for this stuff, it makes sense for those of us who've done best to do our fair share and to try to pass off that bill on to somebody else, that's not right. That's not who we are,"

Conclusion: Happiness is a warm government.


Did I hear right during the State of the Union address that Obama, after saying no more bail outs, proposed homeowners with some relief on their mortgage payments? Cut payroll taxes but attack capital gains?


If you fail to see the problem with this, then, it's time to admit yourself that you're likely financially illiterate. Officially.

Pat Buchanan called it a 'centrist' speech. I heard a lotta federal agencies being created. I heard a lotta empty rhetoric. Name me the ONE idea he proposed? It's as if I watched someone wage his own personal anarchy war.


You have to admit, Navy Seal Team 6 - the unit who called Osama bin Laden - are something else. No wonder Obama likes deploying them.


My Audience Breakdown

Was bumming around blogger's new interface - still can't get used to it - and ended up viewing where my audience mostly comes from. As has always been the case from day one, my biggest readership (and support) comes from the USA. Next up used to be Canada but my home country has been supplanted by France of all countries. Merci mes amis.

Way to go Canada! Thanks for nothing.

Maybe someone should subsidize me.


The Thomas-White House Affair

Boy, this Tim Thomas thing is getting ridiculous. It's okay to not agree with him but to chastise him like I'm hearing?

Do you believe - I mean fundamentally believe at the core of your heart - people are free to make their own choices or not?

Is there a memo that stipulates it's mandatory to go to the White House? Can a man not make his own decisions without being treated as if he's Dale Gribble?

Who died and left the White House the spiritual holder of his (or anybody's really) body, reason and soul? Hey, if it were me, I'd probably go since I always wanted to go see if Lincoln's ghost actually exists but I don't begrudge someone for exercising their right to...whatever.

And don't think for one second some people would have reacted the same if he had done under Dubya because we all know he would have been seen as a hero "fighting for his rights."

My friend pointed out that safe for a few people, there was hardly a peep when former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein didn't follow this "protocol" exactly.

Or Manny being Manny.

Olive Oil Splendor

Skeptical Eye is talking real smart these days about olive oil.

While I was reading, it reminded me of a segment  I thought I had posted online about "liquid gold" on this site but it was on E-Talian  instead - which by the way will be back soon. Anyway, I put up this link and this one. There was another other one; an essay featuring the top olive oil techniques and producers  in the world but it for some reason is gone. Vanished. Poof. No more.

Accepting Defeat Properly

This is good. Real good. We don't get much glimpses of what goes on behind closed doors in sports but this video clip of Ray Lewis rallying the Baltimore Ravens following their loss to the New England Patriots was impressive. Forget about him off the field, this my friends, is what leadership sounds and looks like.

If I'm not mistaken that's the hand of kicker Billy Cundiff, who missed a 32 yard field goal that could have tied the game, Lewis is holding. It was also interesting to hear him praise Joe Flacco who got some, well flack, going into the game. Flacco was solid.

Of course, Lewis is absolutely right. You rise, win, fall and lose as a team.

It's not easy to have a leader in a locker room everyone respects. Those types of players are rare. I know I wasn't always enamored with my captains. Some thought because you yelled and talked a lot it was "leadership" when it was more annoying than anything.

The Ravens played very well against a powerful opponent. I felt before hand it was going to be a 28-20ish kinda game in favor of New England. To keep a high octane offense like New England under 30 is quite a feat. Sure, they could have tied it but it wasn't in the cards. Next year.

Something tells me the Giants may also keep New England in check.


How would Charles Darwin's On the origins of species had changed (if at all) if it were written after industrialization, say, 1890? How would he have viewed man's influence on nature then?


Military Backs Paul With Cash

Now here's an interesting piece of information. Individuals in the military are the biggest donors to the Ron Paul campaign. Think of it, America's mighty wand is backing a libertarian.

One of the main concerns among conservatives (neo-cons in particular probably) is the fear that Ron Paul's foreign policy ideas will weaken America's security abroad and negatively impact national interestes. One of the main governmental artery that sustains American hard power is the military.

The military costs money and, more importantly, lives in an effort to expand and maintain Manifest Destiny.

It's a simple political calculation that has reached its ceiling.


Stats Comparables: Halak And Price

Just keeping tabs on two goalies and former team mates in Montreal.

Jaroslav Halak NHL totals with Montreal and St. Louis: 97 wins, 20 shut outs, 53% winning percentage and .916 save percentage. In the playoffs: 9-10 record with a .923 SP.

Carey Price (Montreal): 114 wins, 14 SO, 46% WP, and .916 SP. 8-15 in playoffs with a .907 SP.

Just reporting the facts.

Quebec's Right Unite

The ADQ merges with the CAQ.

No. They're not reactionaries. On the contrary. Enough already. Hopefully, they will slow down the tendency for Quebec to be anti-private and anti-personal choice.

Monday Night Music

Timbuk 3:

The origins of this song remain obscure. Is it a nuclear protest song meant to be ironic or just plain, plump a song with a positive message about the future? Does it matter? I think it was in response, personally, to Corey Hart's 'I wear my sunglasses at night.'

I remember laying a bet with a girl back in junior high about who was likely to last longer, Bryan Adams or Corey Hart. Time has proven Adams the winner.

I never got a chance to collect.

Tim Thomas Snubs President; JoPa Dies; Carter Fights For His Life

The Stanley Cup is not only the oldest and most storied trophy in North American pro sports but it's also by far the hardest one to win. In fact, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and claim it has had a greater history of interesting stories around the world than the World Cup of soccer. It has become an iconic piece of sports relic that transcends the sport itself.

It shouldn't surprise anyone then, including Americans, it finds its way to the White House. I think the tradition of the President welcoming the champions is a fairly recent event. I could be wrong it may have started with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 1990s and has become part of hockey folklore ever since. You can watch the video here.

However, Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (probably the best goalie in the NHL and the team's only U.S. born player) chose to not attend the ceremony with President Obama stating on his Facebook page:

"I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.

This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government.

Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.

This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic. TT"

Personally, as a person who harps about personal choice and freedom, I don't have much of a problem with his decision. I do understand the other perspective in terms of respecting the office and that it puts his employer the Boston Bruins in a bit of an embarrassing bind. As far as I know, Thomas is the only athlete to have done so.

Not that it's a major issue in the larger scheme of things but curious to know what you 'Mericans think of this.


The other thing I heard brought up is whether this points to how divisive the United States has become. Depending what point of historical reference you choose, I guess you can play with the "divisive" (anyone who reads 19th century American politics aren't so quick to say so) margins quite a bit. Whatever it is, American politics has usually tended to be "divisive" since its existence is fundamentally rooted in revolution and is in constant evolution pitting the rights of the sovereign individual against the expansion of the Federal government and this is exactly where Thomas placed himself.

Which of course may demand the question: Do the (natural) rights of man flow from the state or from God (as the majority - if not all - the Founding Fathers believed)  or from another source?

It's an interesting turn of events.


Lord, such a fall from grace for the iconic football coach Joe Paterno. I used to follow American college football closely back in the 1980s and lemme tell you, Paterno is one name that always stood out. From what I understand, Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post has been following the Paterno affair as close as anyone.


Sad, sad, sad. It doesn't look good for The Kid Gary Carter. The Hall of Fame catcher with the broad smile fights for his life these days. In my mind, and this is just my impression and could certainly be wrong, Carter means much more to Montreal sports fans than he does New York baseball fans.


Ron Paul's Perfect Running Mate

Chuck Norris should be Paul's running mate! One good punch to the head and round house kick to the chest should be enough to cover the debt! They'll then change the name of Washington D.C. to Norris D.C.


Daycare Update

Sample menu from the daycare:

-Stale fruit served handpicked by illegal immigrants every morning. Milck served everyday for lunch. Crackers and biscuits served by local crackheads available.

"Just"uncooked Broccoli
Peach nuts in salted water
Collation: Pills-bury

Baby Goats head soup
Low fat Bread crumbs
Collation: Canned anchovies and sour cream

Oreo cookies on a bed of Boston lettuce
Peanut fest - almonds, peanuts, walnuts, jelly beans
Hawaiian Punch
Collation: Lemons

Nonna's left overs - Rabbit's feet stew
Cauliflower flavored popsicles dipped in fructose

Collation: Sugar

It's a fucking surprise

GOP Caucuses Confuse

After watching South Carolina vote for Newt Gingrich, looks like the GOP caucuses has less to do with electing a candidate based on ideas and more on the concern on their ability to beat President Obama.

In any event, it's not like "ideas" are making any kind of a comeback.

Things I Hate On TV

People who get drenched having a conversation in the rain.

Welcome to my back to back 'hate' posts.

Phrases I Hate

In sports, and even in life in general, we hear "but (he's or she's) only 22! They're young!" in defending a poor action or decision.

Spare me.

Alexander the Great conquered the known world by the age of 25. I know people who had their Masters degree by the time they hit 21.

Yes, wisdom comes with age but stupidity is ageless.

Daycare Update

Some ad ideas for my daycare:

"My daycare is better than yours."


"It's 11am do you know where your children are? We do!"

I think going the fear-mongering way is the best option.


SOPA Stopped

...For now...

Passing Of Two Music Greats

Jazz greats Etta James and Johnny Otis died days within each other in the last week and a half. Nothing strange in this in of itself but it gets interesting when one discovers it was Otis (who was of Greek origin) discovered Etta James

Bad Parenting Premise And American Idol's New Formula

From the latest issue of Parenting magazine. "...raise the next Steve Jobs. (or at least a really, really bright kid."

Which Jobs? The narcissistic, crude, greedy boss who treated his employees with disrespect?


"..Or at least a really, really bright kid" infers Jobs was a genius. Innovative and really smart perhaps but not a genius.


American Idol, I noticed, has taken a whole new route. Gone seems to be the days of laughing at bad singers who thought they were idol material. Instead the program has the novel idea of focusing on, you know, the talent.


Banning Things Are For The Brain Dead And Iliberal Minded

Ever notice how effortlessly liberals and conservatives use the word "ban" when it comes to a social problem they deem important?
They just don't grasp that "banning" something creates a criminal under ground and puts people in jail for non-violent crimes.

How about this concept for a change: Mind you business.

Incredible that in this day and age someone would suggest banning something - like cigarettes.

Hence, as I digress, why Ron Paul's message is resonating.

People are tired of the expanded the Bureauctatic-Statist Complex.

Cinema Kill Shots

So much killing. So much heroism.

So little film.


Like quotes?
Knock yourself out.

"Laws progressively lose their impact as the government increases its range, and a soulless despotism, after crushing the germs of goodness, will finally lapse into anarchy." Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace: A Philosophic Essay

He says this as if it were a bad thing. It looked cool in Mad Max. Wait, wasn't that chaos? Isn't there a difference between anarchy and chaos?

Reno Doing Right By Consumers

I visited Reno Depot today. If you recall, the company made my "don't buy from" list a couple of months back for having one of those stupid (and racist. Yes, I said racist) "ici on commerce en francais" stickers. As if to say, if you plan to ask any questions in english good luck we work in french here. 'Speak white,' you know, for the 2000s.

So, as a consumer, I had little choice but to boycott them and voice my concern in my own small way.

All this to say, I ended up passing and noticed something interesting. The sticker was gone. Not only that, the entire store was decked out in bilingual signs.

I felt like a man again.

Reno is off the "black list."

I like to think someone in management saw this blog and reacted.

Be forewarned!


Tebow Torpedoed

Sigh. My last Timmy Tebow post. While I let myself be swayed by Tebow, I think most football fans recognized it was likely going to come to an end in New England. And boy did it come to crashing end.

This game had less to do with Tebow and everything to do with the Patriots as a superior team from top to bottom in a 45-10 rout. That dominance was set QB Tom Brady in a sterling 1st half display of passing genius. One of the all-time great performances to be sure.

So. What do John Elway and the Denver Broncos do with Tim Tebow? I argued in a last post he can learn the fundamentals to make him a better QB (ie quicker release, throwing with accuracy, faster foot movement etc.). The question is will it be enough to keep him as a starter in the NFL for years to come? Anyone with a mild understanding of the game would have to conclude likely not. But you never know. It's not just Tebow. As the game with the Pats showed, the Broncos come up short in many areas.

When you watch Tebow in opposition to a quarterback like Brady it puts in perspective how far away he is.

Hey, it was a good ride and he did take the Broncos to an unlikely post-season playoff berth and to an upset win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.


The exciting ending in the San Francisco 49ers-New Orleans Saints game was phenomenal by NFL standards since that kind of scoring inside three minutes rarely occurs but it's a common feature of the CFL. In Canadian football, the last minutes are always a frenzied freak out scoring fest. Anyway, two of the four remainng teams have QB's not considered to be elite in Alex Smith and Joe Flacco. Incidentally, both of those teams the play for happen to have two things in common: Two brothers as head coach Jim and John Harbaugh - and two viciously good defensive units.

Ron Paul Is Not An Isolationist

As Ron Paul continues to do well, one key issue he will have to hammer and explain persuasively is his views on foreign policy.

To call Ron Paul an isolationist is about as useless as calling Obama a socialist. Paul's position is rather simple. If the U.S. engages in fair trade, there would be no need for military intervention to protect American interests abroad. It would also put an end to American geo-political hypocrisy (e.g. supporting one dictator when it serves them while espousing the ideals of liberty at the same time).

One small caveat with this. America is not just another country.

It is the supreme nation to which all nations look to for a myriad of reasons. This puts America in a "fix."

The problem with America is even if they kept to themselves the world is constantly asking for their help. This will always keep them involved in world affairs on some level. This means interventionism where it may not necessarily directly impact self-interest. If an allied nation - in which you have strong trade with is invaded by an aggressive entity that runs against your principles - asks for help do you stand by and watch it get over run?

Laugh, but when you watch a film like Lord of the Rings, it lends some insights into contemporary world politics. For instance, even the peaceful Ents were called into action when they attacked Isengard. Even Rohan came to Gondor's defense.

America will always be, in one form or another, involved in international affairs.

Ron Paul definitely would bring a different approach to this fact and into a another direction altogether.


Why do individuals and states intervene? Many reasons including selfish and perhaps in rarest of occasions, altruism. The ending of The Magnificent Seven seems appropriate...

"...the farmers won...we always lose."


Mighty Montreal Canadiens Immitate Mickey Mouse

*Face palm, face palm, face palm* and repeat.

Man, we didn't know it at the time, or some may have, but who would have thought Pierre Turgeon dropping the spine shivering torch at the opening (or was it the closing of the Forum? I forget) of the Bell Center would be symbolic of how hard the Montreal Canadiens have fallen.

The recent turmoil hitting the Habs has to be among the most serious I've seen in any sport; let alone a premier brand like the Habs.

This is one disjointed and incoherent mess.

The only ghosts visiting the team these days is the one Patrick Roy left behind. Since that day, it's been nothing but mediocrity with this team. Think of it, the two lasting impressions this team has left is the infamous Roy meltdown and sending Michael Cammalleri home after the second period because of a trade. Not standard protocol in hockey.

Since then, the organization seems to have become experts in trading from a position of weakness.

That year was the start of the Red Wings dynasty by the way.


The team is poorly run with little standards. Simple as that.

Once upon a time....once upon a time this was the greatest of all hockey organizations.


Detroit Lions north.

Well, up until this year.  The Lions are now legit contenders for the Super Bowl next year!

Ok. Not quite as bad as the Lions. The team has won exactly ONE playoff game since 1958. That, my friends, is bad.

Oakland Raiders?


It's ironic the team unloaded two players - Jaroslav Halak and Michael Cammalleri that have given the team and its fans some of its best moments in recent memory.

It's ok. The team still has its memories. Like Rome I suppose.

I can't find the full ceremony.

Radar Love

Some history on the Pine Tree, Mid-Canada and Dew Line radar systems collectively known as Early-Warning Radars constructed and conducted jointly by the United States and Canada during the Cold War.


With Proper Permission Killing Is Right

Just heard an interesting line on The Mentalist: "...Because killing someone without government permission is wrong."

Digest that for a second.

...without government permission?

I thought murder is murder. Somehow it's "right" if the state does it?


Unemployment Statistics

U.S. unemployment: 8.5%.
Quebec: 8.7%.
Canada: 7.5%

America is freaking out. Quebec is so "been there, done that."


Of Tebow, Larkin And The Habs

What time is it?

It's Teeeeeeebow time!

Man, all I heard all week was how Tebow can't throw spirals, that teams have him figured out now, that he's not a "real" NFL QB. Blah, blah.

All I know is he's got game. Somehow.

What he lacks in blessed Brees or Brady or Rodgers accuracy and quality he makes up with all sorts of intangibles. He can always learn, I reckon, to throw if they work on him.

Just when the world was hopping off Tebow's ark he passes for 316 yards including - BANG! - a vicious 80 yard pass on the very first play in OT to knock out the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers. Now you can hear his PR director telling people, "Two per species folks...Those who never got off  can stay. The rest...Hope you can swim."

Next week it may come to an end simply because the New England Patriots are a superiour football team. 


Sometimes when someone is unorthodox we simply can't compute into our minds it can be a real deal since we can't account for it in whatever models we create. From time to time, an athlete comes along that is not meant to make any sense. At which point, you just have to go with the flow.


Tebow got me thinking of how professional scouts, commentators and coaches etc. try and rationalize "their guy." You hear a lot about all sorts of metrics that sway so much and are applied so selectively makes you wonder about whether people are full of shit.


Saw that Barry Larkin was inducted into the Hall. Ok. So, when's Alan Trammell going in? Larkin's numbers look a little better but are they a significant improvement to enough to keep Trammell out?

Hey, hey relax. I don't want this turning into a Reds-Tigers brawl.


Quick word on the Montreal Canadiens. Heard the GM Pierre Gauthier sorta apologize for hiring Randy Cunneyworth. For shame. Not only that, they don't even have the balls to stand by their decision. Man, just give him the chance to, you know, learn the language.

If the Habs mean so much to nationalists who feel it's natural to merge politics with sport, then why didn't they get together to buy the team when it went up for sale twice?  It's not, afterall, a public institution.

The silence is deafening when you don't put your money where your mouth is, huh?

Fastest Runner Debate

Obviously, we're getting a little technical here. It's been understood that the "fastest man alive" tag belonged to the winner of the 100 metre dash.

I don't know if this position is going to have legs (pun noted), but when Bob Costas (and he wasn't the only one just the biggest name with the biggest stage) said it, it came off as though because an American didn't win, it was time to claim the 200m was the better distance to determine who was fastest.

They tried to change the game in mid-flight. I wasn't buying.

No doubt, we've seen impressive 200 and 400 meter runs but it only became an issue in 1996 now it's back to being understood the 100m is king.

They even made a silly event out of it. An event Donovan Bailey won over Michael Johnson; Johnson injury notwithstanding.

Until they can conclusively prove it,  Bailey was and Usain Bolt is the fastest man alive.

I would love to see a one meter dash. Either way, I know I'm not fastest.


Why no fuss over the 100m swim? Fastest swimmer alive doesn't quite catch you as fastest runner I reckon?

America In The Original

High five to SE.

Link to Tom Mullen here:

"Contrary to Rick Santorum’s assertion that no society based upon radical individualism has ever succeeded, the libertarian, radical individualist principles upon which the United States was founded were precisely why it succeeded so spectacularly. It was libertarianism that made America different from any society before or since – what made it the “shining city on the hill” as Santorum calls it. It was the collectivist conservative philosophy that helped bring it down – with a lot of help from a third philosophical movement called Progressivism. Neither more conservatism nor more progressivism – nor any combination of the two – can solve the problems that America faces today. If Americans want to see liberty and prosperity restored in the United States, then restoring libertarianism is their only hope."

This is certainly unique to the USA. Although, Republican Rome reads eerily close to American history. It began to falter once the empire consolidated; something Cicero (a conservative) lamented.


Who do you like or dislike more? An under achiever or over achiever?

An under acheiver can be cute on some level...with the right script.


The Dark Ages Contained Light

Just a couple of things to keep in mind recounting the "Top 10 Reasons The Dark Ages Were Not Dark."

I like 9,8 and 3.

#9 because of this quote:

"Ronald Numbers (professor at Cambridge University) has said: ‘Notions such as: “the rise of Christianity killed off ancient science”, “the medieval Christian Church suppressed the growth of the natural sciences”, “the medieval Christians thought that the world was flat”, and “the Church prohibited autopsies and dissections during the Middle Ages” [are] examples of widely popular myths that still pass as historical truth, even though they are not supported by historical research."

#8 because the Carolingians are under appreciated in the grand scheme of European history.

Anyway. During a lecture (one of few interesting lectures. Amazing what passion could inject into what really is a blah, blah, blah session. Listen, copy, write the exam!) my European history professor did a good job of trying to contextualize the discipline. In explaining Christianity's dominance across the entire continent he explained that Europeans didn't view themselves as English, German, Spanish etc but as Christians. "I'm John the Christian" was normal. If you would have said "John from England" it would not have been understood.

Amazing, no?

#3 because it touces on the unintended conequences of nature and man's actions. Notice: Pre-industrialization there was hotter temperatures?

One, is it deals with the earlier part of what is labelled as the 'Dark Ages.'

Second, the conversation thread is interesting.

Third, never heard this joke before:

Why were the early middle ages of history called the dark ages?
Because there were so many knights!

Which inspired me to come up with:

Why the the middle-ages called dark?
No lightbulbs!


Come on!


There are parts during the years generally accepted to be "dark" (476AD (Fall of Rome)-1304 (birth of Petrarch), but overall, the M-Ages was a fascinating reforming of Western civilization filled with ideas and concepts that laid the foundation for the modern era.


Canadiana With The Commentator

'You can't do that on television' was a sketch show we used to watch after school. It's funny how something that was once dorky is now classic. I seem to recall an episode of Newsradio paying homage to the "green slime" and "water" bit. Obviously this came by way, I reckon, of Dave Foley and probably Phil Hartman who are/were Canadian. In this video, Alanis Morissette pre-super stardom makes an appearance on the show.


The Simpsons made quite a few references to Canada over the years. Canadian connections to the show here at Simpsons, eh?

If I'm not mistaken, I believe Matt Groening has some Canadian in him. Seriously. Saskatchewan I think. He may have mentioned it when the show came to Place des Arts years ago. Anyway, the show did employ a couple of Canadian hoser-writers.

Yes, believe it or not, we watched quite a bit of curling. As my buddy once remarked on the school bus, "once you watch one end, you're hooked." Find me a country that dominates a sport like Canada does curling.


Love 'Canadian Ned' who likely comes from B.C.


Movie Partnerships I'd Like To See

Movie hook ups I'd like to see: Steve Carel and/or Will Ferrell in a Christopher Guest movie. Wes Anderson may be a stretch.

Friday Night Music

Introducing Tom Ze.

Yeah, baby!

In The Wink Of An Eye

I have to be careful. This blog can easily turn into a blog talking about the "Glory days."

Isn't this a fantastic version of Springteen's classic?

Tales Of The Commentator

Years ago my cousin (may he rest in peace) invited me to supper with some people. I was reluctant but it was in Little Italy in one of the, at the time, best Italian restaurants and since we were in the habit of frequenting a cafe nearby before hitting town, I went along.

His friend was (still is) a cinema mogul who owned several mega-theaters in town. A business his father started years before.

I sat quietly listening, and observing the conversation around me. Actually, it was one-way in the manner of an inflated ego dictating the content of our discussion in a  paternalistic tone.

After a while, he discovered I was in banking and graciously acknowledged my presence and asked me a financial question.

Well, financial if you sufficiently stretched the term.

It basically amounted to money laundering. I laughed my ass off inside. Me? Moi? A lowly bank teller at a trust company cleaning cash? It was to laugh. I could barely balance my wicket at the end of the day I was so flippant.

He asked me if I could do it. I don't remember the context or if he really meant it but I told him I don't think my manager would have been receptive to the idea. He responded with a curt, "then you're no good to me."


I wanted to tell the guy, "hey, why all this arrogance? Because you're a millionaire and own a few cinemas? It's not like you started the business...at some point you'd figure that would count for some humility."

As if that wasn't enough,  it became clear I wasn't going to have risotto as dorkboy spoke on our behalf. "Bring some this and bring some that." For us, you know, commoners. He continued, "...and for me...."


Paternalistic and tyrannical. Just like how I like 'em.

My cousin observed my irritation as I complained under my breath "I don't like calamari" to which he replied, "he's paying."

So why am I telling such a horrible tale?

Last night, as I ate supper, I watched my rather precocious six year-old daughter waste my wife in Monopoly Jr. She was taking to creating a monopoly quite well. As I chanted, "you go girl" I saw a little Mr. Burns before my eyes. It teared me up.

Despite her dominance, she managed to keep her sense of humanity and even displayed humility.  She said, "It's ok, mommy. I'll give you money. We'll share everything."

Wow. Uncoerced socialism. Now that's cool!

Anyway. I was impressed by how she behaved. She's a good kid. Somehow, it brought me back to the story I told earlier.

I guess the moral of this post is, be careful how you conduct yourself. You just might stick in someone's memory for the wrong reasons. And always, always, always be gracious in victory and defeat. Always.

Real Third Party Option?

I discussed earlier about Canada not having a "libertatian principled or leaning" candidate. That wasn't entirely true. Of course, we have sites like Le Quebecois Libre and new political entities like the Coalition pour l'avenir du Quebec. And then there's Maxime Bernier and the Quebec Freedom Network.

Of the three, Le QL is staunchly libertarian while the other two, while advocating similar positions on some issues, remain in the conservative perimeter.

I have to admit, I agree with large parts of his speech.

Excerpt (from link provided):

"As Quebecers, we now have a choice between three national projects. One rests exclusively on Quebec nationalism and leads to independence; another rests on a dominant Canadian nationalism and promotes a centralized type of federalism.

These two options only get support from a minority of Quebecers. Despite that, they are the two main choices that we have been offered for decades.

To these two options, we can add a third, which proposes a more balanced coexistence between our two national identities: that of a more autonomous Quebec in a united Canada. Although it is supported by a large majority of Quebecers, this option never managed to get to the top.
Why is that? Why is it that the two most extreme national perspectives, the perspective of the separatists on the one hand and of the centralizing federalists on the other hand, of René Lévesque and Pierre Elliott Trudeau, have been monopolizing our political debates for the past fifty years?

To understand what went on, I believe we have to set this debate within the larger context of political evolution in the 20th century.

There has been everywhere a significant growth of government. The role, size and powers of government have drastically increased. The portion of the overall economy controlled by government in most western countries has gone from
10% a century ago to more than 40% today.

Here at home, Canadian nationalism was reinforced by a centralizing and interventionist outlook on the role of the federal government. After the Second World War, federal politicians wanted to have their say on all sorts of social issues, despite the fact that these matters were the responsibility of the provinces in our Constitution.

Canada always had a relatively modest government, just like the United States. So, to distinguish Canada from the US, Canadian nationalists invented the myth of a social-democratic Canada, with its public health care system, its numerous social programs, its national norms and cultural protectionism.

Today, the federal government intervenes massively in areas of provincial jurisdictions, and in particular in health and education. Without Quebec nationalism acting as a counterweight, Canada would very likely be an even more centralized federation today..."


I agree with Bernier in that there's a growing segment of not just the Canadian population (myself included), but the American one as well - from what I observe - that are increasingly rejecting the two options he depicts.

Canadian Economy Beginning To Catch Cold?

You know the famous line, "America sneezes, Canada catches a cold." It's a cold, hard fact and reality of Canada's situation. Reminds me of a quote I read during a history of Latin America course I took in school and repeat once in a while, "Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States!" I forget who said. I think a Mexican priest.

In any event, you can easily replace Mexico with Canada.

Are the Americans proud of themselves for making the continent miserable? That's some good dancing though.


I heard on the news Canadian unemployment is on the rise while the U.S. has trended downwards. Unexpectedly of course. That was the story of my life in financial services, "unexpected by analysts."

Quebec in particular - as usual - experiences the highest rate going from 8% to 8.7% - well above the national average of 7.5%.

Yet, our provincial discourse continues to center around building and adding to the welfare state. According to my math, something is not adding up. Less people working and low productivity but let's create more departments? Oh, right. Transfer payments. Right.

Then we wonder why taxes across the board keep going up.

You know things are messed up when you have workers earning $28 000 complaining the government takes too much off their pay cheques.

It'll be interesting to watch the economy moving forward.

OSW Arrests Sheet

I was googling and gaagling around the web looking for some kind of report detailing the differences in arrest rap sheets between The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.

It was looking like I was going to have to manually cull all the information until I found biggovernment.com - which is a conservative website.

You can't really argue with the links and raps for OWS. I still want to see if any arrests connected to The Tea Party were made. If there aren't any, why? Were the police out "to get" OSW?

Grandma Dynamite Off The Hook

This is an example of why our overall thinking about marijuana and even the "war on drugs" is a waste at times.

Sounds like an expensive process to me. Glad the jury was smart about it. I wonder if the cops too knew but had no choice but to charge her?

Just rip the weeds out of the garden and move on. I know, simplistic, but still.

Useless Stat

From the Canadian sports network The Score- who I think aren't that bad at all...usually:

"10 of Phil Kessel's 23 goals have come against Canadian teams."


Is Cliff Claven digging this stuff up?

For this stat to be mildly interesting is if he scored all 23 for Canadian teams - and even then.


How I Ended Up In Private College

In this installment of "Get to know The Commentator" I tell you the (unedited. As in a first draft) tale of how I ended up in private prep school.

It's funny.

In a sad way.

I was, to keep the story tight, a bad student with intelligence - proof of the former in my grades and the latter through only the testimony of teachers. "He's smart but..."

It was that extra purple Dino vitamin that always did me in I tell you!

My gang of friends. We weren't literally a gang but we were a group of friends huddled together thanks to the geographical proximity of our school and homes. We could have been a gang I guess but we passed on it. A couple of our "spherical" friends whom we mostly played sports with along with the occasional hanging out at certain establishments went a certain route - think 'Goodfellas' - but we didn't. In fact, all the guys went on to have seriously good jobs. A third of us (a total of 10 guys) were terrible students while the rest were A1+.


I wasn't a good student. Just laying out there.

Well. That's not exactly true. I was a solid student until I hit High Grade 5 and then I decided to insist on being an idiot. It was all coasting from that point on. One of the "smart" buddies maintains I was lazy and couldn't be bothered or else I'd be as good as any smartie.

The habits I formed in high school followed me to CEGEP. In my first term at Dawson College I was a total mess.I had no clue what the fuck hit me. I was completely out of my element. Which was the lowest type of element. If youtube existed then, the camera that would have followed me around would have made me a star I was so lost.

Sure, I gave the appearance I was in control but I was dying inside. I played the part well.

One of the conditions of my staying in college was I was obliged to take a math class. Suddenly, I went from goof-off asshole hanging out the cool kids saying stupid things like "I won't need math in life!", to relying on it, ironically, to get me though the Bovine University social system. In other words, I had to learn how to learn and study. Fast.

So what was my plan? Hunk down, roll up the sleeves and get it done? Nah. I did what anyone in hole would do. Dig it deeper.

I realized the guy next to me - Jay - had a knack for math. He was a Chinese exchange student who, if I remember the story right, was misplaced in the cheap math class I was in. He was so smart, the teacher was bringing in physics and complex mathematics books for him to read and keep his skills sharp. To compound my stress, the way the professor functioned was she gave a test once a week for ten weeks. You're cumulative score was your grade. So if you got 8/10 each time you ended up with 80%. It was simple and smart.

On the first test, Jay, I guess being too nice and naive if not in need of a "friend" he motioned to me to feel free to copy his work. Being weak as I was, I complied willingly. Ten tests later, I'm lavished with an 87%. One of the tests were pretty funny. I was lazy but not stupid. He would condense a solution that had a 10 step answer into, like, two. I had to tell him the teacher wasn't going to buy I came up with the same answer. What does he do? He tailors me an answer!

It was jolly. But I knew there was a potential danger. The final exam. I couldn't tell the difference between Cos and Tan from Costan or Tango & Cash.

On that day, the plan was simple. Sit behind him. All was going according to plan until some Indian chick cut in front of me and took the seat. I never cursed such vulgarities in my head until that point in my life - or since. I tried my telepathic Aquaman powers to get her to move but to no avail. I was stuck and my fraudulent escapade (I don't think I ever used the word escapade on this blog until now) was over. I sat on a diagonal to Jay but I was screwed. I left after the mandatory stay period of 15 minutes.

Kicking the snow as I left the school I realized I was in serious trouble. I don't remember much after that except my mother got involved and managed to get me a rewrite. "Isn't it great! The teacher was so nice. She was confused as to what happened!" "All I could do is muster a grin. I didn't know what to do for I knew I was going to fail again.

I had no choice but to appeal to another familial figure. My sister, eight years my senior. I was may 17 or 18 at the time. I explained the entire story to her and her boyfriend (now my fricken brother-in-law)as they laughed at my expense. All I know after that is I found myself in prep school where the classes were limited to 10 or less students.

It helped enormously. It's there I discovered I could write and think critically. I presented essays well enough to be told to explore a career in writing and even history.

Of course, I was still who I was and ignored it.

Now I blog.

I do wonder what ever happened to Jay.


Critical Thinking On The Run

I'm no genius but I kinda noticed it too. Critical thinking isn't exactly the focus in modern education.


Who would win on Dealiest Warrior: The Russian Spetsnaz  or a drunk hockey player from Saskatchewan?

Who would win in chess: Garry Kasparov or Bugs Bunny?


Ron Paul Comes In Third In Iowa

American politics is so interesting. I wish here in Canada there would be a 'Ron Paul' type option that veers off the mainstream horses. Quebec has been experiencing with different parties (ADQ and the recent party started by Normand Legault) but you don't have too much choice the way parliamentary politics is set up, the personality is submissive to the party. In the USA, you get your Ralph Nader's and Ron Paul's.

Canada has two and a half parties (Conservative, Liberal and NDP) with a few others gaining official party status every election cycle including the Libertarian party. If you think libertarian principles are a tough sell in the USA, imagine Canada!

What I would like to see is an "independent" option. In the U.S., registered independents float (or at least can if they want to) between parties and individual candidates. I like that.


I see that Paul came in third in the Iowa caucus vote. While it's no surprise Romney won, it was interesting that Rick Santorum pushed by Gingrich and Bachmann. None of these candidates inspire much. As for Romney, I don't see why being a Mormon would irritate anyone. I've met a few in my life. I even worked with a Mormon. Incredibly nice people. No matter how high strung and vulgar we got, she always remained poised, soft spoken and polite. But that be best as another story for another time.

Ron Paul's showing is impressive in that he helped purged the party of running Gingrich and Bachmann; neither of whom were serious threats to Barack Obama. I damn well keep moving forward if I were him.

Realistically, it's Mitt Romney at this point if the GOP wants a shot at the title.

Ideally, I would love seeing Ron Paul shake the foundation of contemporary American politics.

Bush, Obama, Romney. Bushobamney! Would there really be a difference?


Classic Movie Clip

As you by now, I do like old classic movies so. This is clip holds the final scene in Come September starring Rock Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida, and co-starring Sandra Dee and the great Bobby Darin.

Lollobrigida's kiss and wink at the end is one for the ages. Hot.

Politics Defined

Click on image to read.

Pass The Joint

The only problem with this Pink Floyd masterpiece is that, well, it comes to an end.

Tuesday Night Music Special

47 million views for Led Zeppelin isn't surprising.

Damn. It's still a greatsong from one of the all-time great bands.

The soft and sensual but intense sound of Fleetwood Mac led by Stevie Nicks is wicked good.

Bomb Iran War Drums Illogical

The problem with American foreign policy at the moment is it's interventionist and predicated on the preemptive philosophy in the interest of national securtiy. This keeps them in perpetual fear of certain enemies.

It's a messy thing this outlook. Someone just may cry wolf.

I'm not sure Iran is one of them. As I've said for years, bombing Iran is insane. It's irrational. Illogical. From what I read, Iran is promoting its own "law of continuity" by remaining on the cusp of internal revolution. Why not - under cover or otherwise - help it along? Wouldn't this serve Western and American interest better if it could lead to the desired democratic design?

Super Councils Doomed To Fail

Though I'm no enemy of business (surprise), you can count me in as one of those who feels setting up councils with successful people as theater.

It's so faulty a premise it's no surprise it fails.

Basically, it's a typical top-bottom approach. CEO's are smart guys (for the most part) but it doesn't mean they have answers to what grips an organisim known as "the economy."


Strange Memories

Our memory and how it functions can be strange. Ever wonder why certain non-eventful moments and images from our past stay lodged deep within our minds popping up from time to time?


When I was in grade school, I watched an intramural basketball game among the girls. I remember watching it on stage but I don't remember whether it was during school hours or not or other relevant details. I just remember three people starring in this sorry act: Myself, the gym teacher (Rollie) acting as referee and a girl (Mirella).

Mirella was constantly appealing to Rollie to call a foul until he finally retorted in a French-Canadian accent, "are you made of chocolate?"

That's it. That's the story. A fricken footnote in my life forever surfacing into focus from time to time. I don't know why. Maybe it traumatized me hearing an adult speak in such a manner. Who knows?

Maybe that's why I hate clowns?

Surf's Up!

Dick Dale is considered to be the father of surf guitar rock.

Playing surf music in the desert. Classic.



Fleas On Earth

Whenever I see all those people with their funny looking "green" grocery bags, I can only think about how pitiful and utterly arrogant we are as a species.

While we're so busy acting on green issues out of fear, we forget Earth has a billion years head start on us. Our panic has created an entire cottage industry filled with snake-oil slickster-environmental Cassandra's capitalizing ("good" capitalism I reckon) on fear of earth's demise.

On a slightly different rant, what about endangered protected species (those we know are not caused by man) list? Before all this hysteria, I seem to recall learning that exctinction is a normal, natural process. All part of nature's (and maybe devine) plan. Earth knows how to wipe its own ass.

Why can't we just let nature run its course?

I didn't realize George Carlin could make it humorous - in a sad way.

I'm with Carlin. The earth ain't going anywhere. If anyone is going anwhere it's us and our narcissistic, parochial mindset straight to nowhere. It's good that man has found ways to work around nature but woe to those who believe we can permanently alter it negatively or not.

First Quote Of 2012

“I don't want to run your life, I don't know how to run your life, and the Constitution doesn't give me the authority to run your life.”

Ron Paul.

Hubba, hubba.

New Year Music

As if the creative power and impact of Paul McCartney and John Lennon weren't enough for any band let alone Da Beatles. The group also had George Harrison - who slowly began to gain recognition for his talent -  adding yet another layer of musical magnificence.

But wait.

There was still more.

In the name of Ringo Starr who had a style onto his own offering yet more to what was and is the greatest band in the history of rock and roll. Humorous, surreal, flippant with sweet, simple, almost childlike melodies and harmonies, Starr's style seems to keep some magical innocence that may still lurks within the band's inner musical journey constantly in a state of evolution.