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Showing posts from September, 2005

On Tolerance

This blog's father was a journal with a pink cover I called "Past...Present...Fuschia." I began that diary in 1997 and it saw me through to my wedding day in October of 2000. In it, I did some of the better writing of my life. Most of it was introspective in nature: I was learning to accept myself as I was, and to do that I had to ask "who am I?" a lot.
Sometimes I look back through that diary (and its predecessors) to see if how I feel about any given issue has changed over the years. I've discovered there's no better mine for new writing than old writing.
At one point in 1998 I found myself listening to Josh McDowell on my radio. McDowell is a theologian who claims to have originated the "Lord/liar/lunatic" description of Jesus. Very briefly, he contended that one had to believe that Jesus of Nazareth could have been

(a) a liar: if so, given his words, one of the most arrogant liars in all history;
--OR--
(b) a lunatic: if so, he was quite thorou…

Assholery 101

This past weekend, Queen's University in Kingston--which likes to think of itself as a founding member of Canada's Ivy League--was witness to some bush-league behaviour on the part of some of its students.
A crowd estimated at between five and seven thousand, many of them intoxicated, went on a rampage, overturning and burning a car, throwing hundreds of beer bottles and taunting police with racial epithets. Thirty-five people were arrested. At least eighteen Criminal Code charges were laid, along with more than 200 liquor law violations. More charges are pending.
Queen's is co-operating with Kingston police, and says any students involved will be subject to its discipline policy.

Well, yahoo and all that.

The most Queen's can do with these people is the least that should be done: immediate expulsion upon conviction. (I'll be fair here: some schools actually write into their disciplinary policies that students so much as appearing to engage in criminal activity face …

I'm changing.

"If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain."

--widely (and falsely) attributed to Winston Churchill; origin unknown

There's no way Winston Churchill ever said such a thing: he was a conservative at 15 and a liberal at 35. But I find myself meditating on those waggish words as I inch closer to my 35th birthday.

In my teens and early twenties, I was the most ardent of Conservatives. I first became politically aware in Mulroney's second mandate, and sometimes thought I was the only guy in Canada who didn't want him dead. To this day, the vitriol directed at the former PM amazes me. As far as I can tell, the hatred stems from two things: the GST and a too-chummy relationship with the United States.

You can blame Mulroney's regime for the institution of the Goods and Services Tax, but you'd need to reserve a share of blame for Chretien, who repeatedly promise…

What the @#$%????

Crude oil today: $66.80 (U.S.) a barrel
Price of regular grade gasoline in southern Ontario today (confirmed): anywhere from 95.9 cents/litre to $2.25/litre

Record high price of crude: $70.85 (U.S.) a barrel, post-Katrina
Price of gas then: $1.34.9 at its highest point

The lineups at the pumps here in Waterloo have been something to behold. The price across the lot from my grocery store stood at $1.03.7 all day, prompting a rush of apocalyptic proportions. This morning, the radio reported a price of $2.25 in Stratford and $179.9 in London.

I will confess myself to be an ignoramus when it comes to the economy. Stock markets are beyond my comprehenstion: to me, they seem to be the place where shady, X-Files type world dominators gamble with imaginary wealth. The recent fluctuations of gasoline defeat my mind entirely.

Can you imagine the price ANY other product jumping up and down like gasoline does? "Well, sir, the milk was 99 cents a liter yesterday. But we're concerned about the m…

Our justice system is fraudulent.

Who am I?
Who am I?
I am Paul Coffin!
And so Gom'ry, you see it's true

That man bears no more guilt than you!
Who am I?
24601!

--from Les Miserables (paraphrased)

Paul Coffin has not been chased to justice over a stolen loaf of bread. No, he has been convicted of stealing more than $1.5 million from Canadian taxpayers. That's a lot of bread!

And Paul Coffin hasn't been reduced to a number. Far from it. No, his "punishment" is to be confined to his lavish estate north of Montreal, between the hours of 9:oo p.m. and 7:00 a.m nightly. Harsh, isn't it? Don't feel too bad for the poor man...that's only in effect on weeknights. Except for those nights when he must give court-ordered seminars on business ethics.

That's right, business ethics.

As if we needed any further proof of the complete insanity of our "justice" system.

Has it occurred to anyone at all that this is akin to Paul Bernardo being asked, as a condition of his sentence, to give little c…

Diet update

First, the numbers: 20 pounds down, 1/3 of the way to my goal.
Eva's done considerably better than that...clothing she couldn't fit into before this low-carb regime started are now baggy and loose on her; she swims in what used to fit her.
I'm still hearing from all over the place that low-carb diets are useless and even dangerous. (The most recent attack came from the Toronto Sun's doctor columnist, who said that low-carb diets deprive the body of folic acid, a deficiency linked to heart attacks.)
Even he admits that folic acid is available in pill form, including in the multivitamins I take daily, but of course that's buried in the middle of his column where many people won't see it.
Dr. Gifford-Jones, it's hard to argue with my bathroom scale. Or with the increased energy I have. Or with the fact that my stomach almost never sings doo-wop any more.
I've cheated twice. On one occasion, I had hot dogs--with buns. The next day...
Have you heard of the trots?…

Addendum

Shootouts.

I meant to put my thoughts in on this very interesting wrinkle the NHL is trying out this year.

I haaaaaate 'em.

I know, they had to do it, it adds excitement to the game, a tie is like kissing your sister and all that...well, not having a sister, I can't really say, now can I? Suppose my sister was really gorg--

Okay, never mind that. People don't like tie games. Gotcha.

Still, I don't like shootouts. It's akin to deciding a baseball game with a home run derby, or a football game with a field-goal contest, or a basketball game on a series of uncontested three-point shots. Hockey is supposed to be a team sport. Reducing it to a one-on-one battle between goalie and shooter...well, why bother playing the game in the first place? Just have a series of players take potshots at the goaltender. Defense? We doan need no steekin' defense.

Granted, it's exciting. In fact, I can't think of a single sporting spectacle that gets me so het up.
But I can't…

Non-hockey fans should probably skip this one...

Less than a month to go...
I can't begin to tell you just how much I am looking forward to the resumption of NHL hockey in T-20 days and counting. This has been a summer of frantic signing, punctuated by a few blockbuster trades. Most teams have come out ahead...or think they have.
I'm not sure what category to put my beloved Buds in. They've certainly been active, picking up Jason Allison, Eric Lindros, Alex Khavanov, Jeff O'Neill, Mariusz Czerkawski and Brad Brown and nudging right up against the hard cap. The rookies good enough to potentially overcome coach Quinn's veteran bias and crack the team out of camp will be up and down between the NHL and the AHL all season: every game Carlo Colaiacovo plays for the Marlies will give the Leafs $2800.00 worth of cap room. They may need that wiggle room come the end of the season, for good or ill. Allison's contract is laden with performance bonuses. Should he stay healthy and contribute, these bonuses will count agai…

It's debit-able...

Do you use Interac?
If you are Canadian, chances are your answer is "yes". Or, even more likely, "hell, yeah!"
Canadians are among the heaviest users of debit cards in the world. As a nation, we purchased more on debit than the United States did in 2001, the last year for which I can find figures. Think about that a minute: they have more than ten times our population.
Having worked in retail for many years now, I have seen the rising use of Interac from the other side of the counter. Well over 90% of our grocery store's sales are paid for using debit cards. With numbers like that, it's not hard to imagine a cashless society, and sooner than you'd think.
I have a love-hate relationship with debit. I love the convenience. I hate just about everything else.

SERVICE CHARGES

It seems hard to believe, but there was once a time--not all that long ago, either, within my lifetime--when banks made money by prudently investing what funds we, their customers, deposited…

I Am Ken Breadner

I have finished Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons. For all its flaws (and there were several, some of them major), this novel was an entertaining read. It also had the effect of catapulting me into my past.
The titular heroine is a poor but brilliant girl from Sparta, North Carolina, population 900 and most of them, you get the feeling, inbred. Despite her intelligence, she's fantastically naive about the world beyond. Because of her intelligence, she's got herself a one-way ticket deep into the heart of that world beyond: a full scholarship to Dupont University, the place Harvard and Yale dream of being. Charlotte undertakes an journey of self-discovery in what proves to be an environment entirely unlike anything in her experience or imagination...a place besotted, not with intellectual pursuits, but instead with sex and booze and status.

I was nowhere near as intelligent as Charlotte when I ventured out from my little town of Ingersoll, population 8,000 and most of them, …

New Orleans times 200,000

As aftershocks from Katrina continue to resound, and literally hundreds of people have been made aware of the environmental issues of long standing along the Gulf Coast, it amazes me that I'm still seeing people dismissing them.
I guess it shouldn't surprise me overmuch. No matter how many Manhattan-sized chunks of ice calve off the Arctic glaciers, no matter how many studies show ocean and land temperatures rising, there are those who say that global warming is bullshit.
But there was one whacko writing in the National Post today who went further. I can't tell you his name, because to read the Post online, one must already have a subscription. (Aside: what brain-dead airhead dreamed that policy up? If I wanted a subscription to a newspaper, I'd get one...to a newspaper.)
This whacko, whatever-his-name-was, started off saying that "erosion is a natural process". From there he leapt to the startling observation that environmentalism is a "pseudo-religion&…

At the Derby

Spent a good chunk of the day today at the Mitchell Fair.
Now, the Mitchell Fair is not something, I hasten to tell you, that I would normally be clamoring to attend. Fairs, particularly small-town fairs, rank just behind sorting my sock drawer and just ahead of brushing my teeth for sheer excitement. But Eva's brother had a car entered in the demolition derby. Jim wasn't the driver--he was the guy who built the car--but the way these things work, the driver, if he won, would be paid in prestige and Jim would get cash dollars. So we were there to cheer Jim's driver on.
We got to the fair a good three hours before the derby was to start. So we made the grand tour. Over there's the midway: Ferris wheel, Tilt-a-Whirl, Berry-Go-Round, Round-Up, a couple of other rides, none meant for adults. Over here's the community center, filled to the brim with local colour. The Bake-Off entries are right here: some of them look quite tasty...too bad we can't try any of them. Th…

Katrina, Part II

It is widely believed that George Herbert Walker Bush lost the presidency in large part because of his administration's pitiful failure to provide meaningful relief in the face of Hurricane Andrew.
How history repeats itself.
The outrage many feel in the face of an even more pitiful effort to relieve suffering in the wake of Katrina is not the sort of thing voters tend to forget. It's possible to bamboozle your constituents into supporting an unjust war, if you play your cards just right. After all, you can make sure nobody ever sees the thousands of coffins containing what used to be American youth and idealism. And if you talk about weapons of mass des--umm, "liberation"--often enough and loud enough, then hey, some people are bound to listen, aren't they?

But, boy George! it's hard to equivocate your way out of leaving poor black people who didn't vote for you to die.

And let's not gild the lily. That's exactly what Bush did.

Hurricane protection f…

I'm very sorry about this...

...but the buggers have found me. Due to 'comment spam', I've had to enable what's called "word verification" on comments. This means that if you wish to leave a comment, you'll need to enter a random nonsense word first. I AM STILL VERY INTERESTED IN HEARING WHAT MY READERS--the ones who aren't selling something--HAVE TO SAY. I hope you're all willing to enter a few characters and save the Breadbin from being overrun with mouldy spam.

Thanks!

Ken

Katrina

I used to love violent weather.
Back when I was single, you could fit all my possessions into the trunk of a taxicab. I did so, more than once. A few of these had sentimental value, but there was nothing I couldn't, strictly speaking, abandon in the blink of a hurricane's eye. So I would get tremendously excited whenever the weather threatened to...well, threaten. And if somebody else was getting the nasty weather, I'd hover around the Weather Network, picking up vicarious thrills. St. John's got six feet of snow yesterday! Woo-hoo!
I must hasten to admit that when the weather turned truly bad--lethal--there would be an instant and total attitude adjustment. The shell-shocked image of the family emerging from their cellar to find open air where their house used to be has a way of slapping the silly grin off a face.
The really bad weather still fascinates me, and probably always will. But that fascination is muted, now. The excitement has largely leached out of it. I'…