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Showing posts from July, 2006

Warning: this might give some people high blood pressure.

On December 8, 1941, Japan engaged in a sneak attack on a U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbour. America retaliated by warning Japanese civilians to evacuate a small area of southern Japan, before engaging in limited airstrikes. confined to that area. There were, unfortunately, some civilians killed in the airstrikes, among them women and children. America, under immense pressure from most of the rest of the world to cease hostilities, did suspend military action in the afflicted area for a little while, and its president offered profuse and heartfelt apologies. However, it insisted on continuing its efforts until Japan was neutralized.

Total bunk, right? We all know what really happened...and there weren't many in the world who opposed it at the time. Even the atomic bombs, so contentious in hindsight, were seen at the time as a means to limit casualties.

So now we have an unprovoked cross-border attack, illegal under international law, on Israel, this time. This has been followed up …

Approaching meltdown

This searing, oppressive heat is having serious consequences worldwide. Consequences which will only get worse as time goes on.

I've reversed my position on important issues so many times you'd think I was some kind of politician. Global warming is one such issue. At first, I simply believed everything I read in the papers--never a good idea. Then I pendulumed over to the Dark Side, with Michael Crichton. There's a certain romanticism in rowing against the world's currents: it's intoxicating to believe that you are among a Select Group of People who Know The Truth.

Yup, uh-huh, like alien abductees. They Know The Truth, too.

I still maintain that Crichton's STATE OF FEAR makes a number of excellent points (and not all of them have to do directly with global warming, either: there's an excellent passage--whence the title of the book derives--about the sworn duty of the media to keep us afraid.)

But I now believe that Crichton's book is irrelevant. I'm s…

Okay, fine, I'll weigh in.

Why are we surprised that (some of the) evacuees from Lebanon are upset with our government? After all, the ships weren't air conditioned. Some people had to sleep on deck. The food was substandard. There were delays. It was, all in all, a horrible experience for many.

(I'm sure being bombed would have been preferable...)

Even though some of these Lebanese-"Canadian"s haven't darkened our shores for decades, they've learned well from a distance just what it means to be Canadian. In one word: entitlement.

It's all about the rights, isn't it? Apparantly somewhere in our Constitution it says the government is duty-bound to save our asses free of charge should we blunder into a war zone. Or should we decide to go live in a war zone, you know, just for the hell of it.

I'm actually happy that these evacuees are speaking up. A debate on what it means to be Canadian is long overdue in this country.

This Lebanese situation is far from the only abuse of Canadia…


Little peeves that have been peeving me of late:

Can we stop referring to suicide bombers as "cowards"? It's kind of hypocritical in a society as afraid of death as ours is.
What makes groups such as Hezbollah "cowardly", by my lights, is their strategy of blending in with the civilian population of Lebanon as they wage their low-level guerrilla war against Israel. This forces Israel to target civilians, meaning regrettable, but necessary, innocent casualties.

Can the Toronto Star examine the sky in its world, just once? A few months ago, it featured an article about fostering change in Toronto. The sequel came out today: it makes for gag-inducing reading. Supposedly over four hundred readers wrote in, and all of them, to judge from today's pap, spoke eloquently of the need for "community", the need for "broad-based initiatives across all socioeconomic strata", the need for "an annual potluck dinner held in all city parks."

ONE case frozen peas, ah-hah-hah-hah-hah!

It's been a week.
My store has gone corporate, which is supposed to mean nothing to me now that the changeover has happened, but it sure meant something in the lead-up. Sobeys required a full inventory, and it was supervised by what seemed like battalions of Head Office personnel.
The inventory was scheduled for Friday night at 6:00. If there's a worse time to hold an inventory, I can't imagine what it might be.
Like most grocery stores, our flyers run Saturday to Friday. Whenever possible, I try to start setting up the next ad on Wednesday or Thursday to save myself a brutal Friday night. In this case, I had little choice: the ad had to be fully set up before the inventory.
The grocery store freezes while inventory is taking place. Customers can still shop the store; a reading is done before and after to determine sales. But all stocking of shelves comes to a halt: you can't run the risk of something being counted twice or not counted at all.
I had to make Friday's w…

Down at the Heels

I am the sort of person who is forever injuring himself in (thankfully) petty ways: a nick here, a cut there, a bruise under when I first noticed the pain in my heel six years ago, I paid it little mind.
True, it was my honeymoon. But I didn't think the ball and chain dragging off my ankle would hurt like that so soon. No, I figured I'd just sprained it or something and I'd be all right in a week.
No such luck.
The pain was an off and on sort of thing, but each time it came back, it grew. After two years of trying to deny it really hurt and then wish it away, I finally decided it was worth burdening Canada's overburdened health care system with.
Plantar fasciitis. In both heels.
Little wonder, really. If you look at the contributing factors to this ailment, you paint a very lifelike portrait of Ken Breadner:
Overweight, check. I used to be drastically underweight, but the "freshman 20" in my case was closer to a "freshman hundred"...and I'v…

I take a quick break... write out some fiction and the world geopolitical situation goes to shit.
Our civilization can be said to have begun in the Middle East. That may be the case, but it seems we had to spread out of the powderkeg before we could begin to evolve.
There is likewise a view that war is the wellspring of all technological advance. It is true that long periods of peace tend to stagnate a society, and many technological marvels first had military applications. However, peace is a the first requisite for social and spiritual advancement. The first step towards the solution of any problem is the decision not to kill each other over it.
Sadly, this is a step that has yet to be taken in and around the Levant.
The political situation is complex, with many players and even more layers (which is this writer's shorthand for "I'm tired, and really don't feel like wading through scads of contradictory information just to write a blog entry".)
It is fashionable in Canada these da…

Market Share, Part V

The predictable problem was that he liked Gerry Knowles.
They'd met the next day, when Billy was formally introduced to the General Systems marketing team, and had hit it off immediately. Billy was invited to Gerry's house in the suburbs, where the family had treated him like visiting royalty.
Billy knew that this was exactly the route he was supposed to take: win Gerry's trust, then betray him and murder him. Or have him murdered, more like--while Billy had always lived with the maxim "Business is War" close to heart, he'd never imagined being summarily dispatched to the front lines of that war.
Now that he was here, regarding the "enemy" up close, he couldn't say he liked it much.

Gerry's kids had gone off to bed and his wife had followed soon after, pleading exhaustion. Billy and Gerry sat on the verandah, which was surrounded by VR screens. Gerry had programmed a view of a mountain lake at sunset. Cool breezes puffed out and ruffled Billy&…

Market Share, Part IV

Billy found himself back on the street without a clear idea how he'd gotten there. Ever the hard-headed realist, he was unaccustomed to the feeling that he was living a dream-turned-nightmare.
On the one hand, he really ought to get to work--even he, a civilian until twenty minutes ago, had heard rumours that General Systems was close to matching Mercanix's propsphere, perhaps even surpassing it. On the other, he really needed a chance to decompress...not to mention a chance to figure out just how the hell he was going to get himself out of this. Preferably alive.
He made his way home by hovercab--what the hell, he could afford it, now--and spent most of his evening staring blankly at his media center. Deep in the sweatshops, his mental minions were formulating a plan.
Billy harboured no illusions. He was sure all his communications were being monitored, and it wasn't out of the realm of possibility that Gatlin's mercanix had installed a mini-propsphere somewhere nearby…

Market Share, Part III

Billy stared at Gatlin for what seemed like an eternity, unable to process what he'd just heard. He wants me
This is a joke, right?
"Oh, it's no joke, I assure you, Mr. Madison", said Gatlin. The president of Mercanix smirked at him. "Did you honestly think a simple deskbound job paid 13+? Now that would be a joke."
Billy stood up quickly and turned towards the door. With his back to Gatlin, he said "I'm not qualified for this, and I have serious moral qualms about accepting this position. In offering it to me, you have broken at least two laws that I know of, and"--Christ, it was a long walk to the door!--"I'm an honest man. Thank you..."
He was interrupted by slow, sardonic applause.
Against his better judgement, he turned around.
"Oh, very good, Billy, very well done," enthused Gatlin. "But I think you'll find that you have, shall we say, an aptitude for this sort of work. While you may not be qualified…

Market Share, part II

Billy accessed his ticker during the one minute ride to the 92nd floor. He looked down and to the left, squinched his eyes shut, and thought "JOB POSTING". The text that played back read


Are you a proven marketing executive looking to take that Next Step Forward and Feel Whole?
Mercanix has an opportunity tailor made just for you! We require a solid results-oriented penetration expert to manage and implement contracts from inception through completion and follow-through.

Candidates must be in excellent mental and physical condition, able to withstand the rigors of a demanding and stressful position.
We offer the best benefits in the business, including RR 13+

We are always looking to increase our already impressive market share. Can you help us? Apply MERCANIX DIRECTPOS 34591.

Pretty vague, he thought. Within the propsphere, the letters in MERCANIX seemed to glow with a gentle, welcoming light. But what really had B…

Market Share, Part I

The street teemed. Shit, thought Billy. You have to suck in your gut to turn around. He had a job interview at 2:30, six blocks from here. Billy blinked twice and accessed the ticker running across the top of his NonUV. An ad for Negrad suncreens played across the ticker, and he blinked in annoyance. Do they really think I'm interested in Negrads?, he wondered. That's like seeing an ad for Pepsi on a Coke can.
1:52. No, 1:53. No way in hell would he make it, not through this crowd. They actually seemed to be pressing him back a step for every two steps he took.
A little frantic, Billy looked left, then right. No chink in the wall of humanity surrounding him. Damn it all, he thought. I should have done this over the Net, like everyone else. Still could, I suppose...there's an alcove over there that might serve. But if I teleview, I probably won't get the job.
Billy Madison was one of those rare curmudgeonly types who still believed in face-to-face contact...especially wi…

Preview of Coming Attraction

Still more than three months to go, and the anticipation's already racheting up.
But I'm weird that way. I mean, I'm scouting replacements for Harold, our Toyota the time it comes time to replace Harold, half the models I'm looking at now won't frigging exist. I'm already plotting out retirement plans (move somewhere cheap and on water--either out east or somewhere way the hell north and gone in Ontario). Retirement's thirty years away, by the way.
I used to be obsessed with the past. Now it seems I spend a good chunk of time in the future. It's not borne of some mad rush to escape my present, believe me: I love my life, its boring stretches included. But thinking about future escapades lends a little frisson to even the most dreary of days.
Eva and I are of like mind this way, as we are in so many other ways. She's the planner: I shit you not, I've seen her make a list of the lists she needs to make. We'll talk over the plans, but bo…

It's summertime, and the Leafin's not so easy.

I know, it's summer, and hockey is the last thing on most people's minds. God knows, the Stanley Cup playoffs go on and on, longer than Celine Dion's heart. In my world, the NHL playoffs would end the night before baseball season got underway and would start the night after the final game of the World Series. But then again, my world isn't ruled by the almighty dollar sign.
And just because the playoffs are over doesn't mean I can sweep hockey out of my head. On the contrary, what with this frenzied free-agent madness, hockey's top of mind every day right now.

I have to admit in analyzing the lockout and its fallout, I was dead wrong in almost every particular. I thought the game would take years to recover, and that at least three U.S. teams would fold. Although the television ratings in the States are nothing short of abysmal, and hockey still ranks below, say, team tetherball in American consciousness, the gate for most teams is up, in some cases dramatically…

Uncle Ted

Imagine this: it's 7:30 in the morning, New Year's Eve. Your husband is heading out the door, on his way to save the world. He's a cop: that's what they do, every day, in small ways...and occasionally in larger ways as well.
You've learned to live with that small, niggling voice that resides deep inside the spouses of all police officers. It still speaks to you, every now and again, after all these years; it's cursed with a vivid imagination, and mostly what it imagines is all manner of horror befalling your husband. A routine traffic stop that suddenly goes bad. An accident on the water. A domestic dispute wherein the guy decides to give the cop a little of what his wife's been getting. Such is the lot of the partners of cops.
Odds are that voice is pretty quiet, today. It's New Year's Eve, after all. You've got plans for tonight, once your husband's off shift.
He turns to you now, gives you a peck--amazing, how good that still feels after so…

Dominion Day greetings

Happy Canada Day, one and all.
What a great country we live in.
Our government is respected by those few people outside the country that notice (or care) we exist. We're a democracy; we generally tend not to throw people in jail without a good reason. (Hell, we don't like to throw people in jail no matter what the reason.) We don't go barging into other countries to make war, even if some people think that's what Afghanistan's about; instead, we invite the whole world here and give them all free rein to bring their wars with them.

We believe in one health care system accessible to all...which is a good thing, since it keeps eating up more and more of our money: sooner or later we'll have no choice but to go and live in hospitals.

We're a tolerant nation. So long as you're not the American government, a born-again Christian, or a Canadian celebrity, we'll tolerate you just fine. We go out of our way not to offend groups whose members have explicitly t…