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Showing posts from April, 2007

War. What's It Good For?

My attitude on Afghanistan is changing. It's starting to mirror my attitude on Iraq.
We all remember the justification for the Iraq war, right? Those mythical 'weapons of mass destruction'? To this day, many Americans will tell you that not only did Saddam actually possess these things, he was also behind 9/11. Of course, none of that is true, but truth is such a subjective thing these days. If enough people believe the Kyoto Protocol will save the planet, it follows that those who object, even mildly, are eco-terrorists bent on Earth's destruction...

Sorry, there. Damn hobby horse.

Anyway, I was originally solidly behind both Iraq and Afghanistan. Afghanistan first, of course, since that was the first theatre of operation post 9/11 and where, we were told, the man behind it lurked, planning further atrocities.

Like a good sheep, I shifted gears smoothly, believing what I was told to believe, as the focus (in hindsight, inexplicably) shifted from Kabul to Baghdad. And I s…

The Internet: Boon or Bane?

The easy answer is 'both', of course. Like every tool we've invented, the Net can be used for good or ill. The extent to which it is ill-used is not its fault, any more than it's a car's fault when someone is run over.
So many people--overwhelmingly older people, say, 45 and up--believe the Internet is a vast shadowy jungle, where monstrous things lurk, ready to tear out your soul and eat it raw. They are part. The "World" part of "World Wide Web" is literally true: the 'Net is much like our Earth, civilized and urbane in many areas, wild and insane in many others.
People young enough to hear the word "mouse" and not think of a rodent have a different view. They're intimately familiar with their own little hamlet on what used to be called the "Information Superhighway"....and familiarity only breeds contentment in their elders. They're bored; they want to explore, and the dark places have an undeniable al…

Newsflash: Ontario's Energy Minister Is Out To Lunch

I've been waiting for this.
Waiting to pounce.
Ontario's Energy Minister shot down the idea of putting scrubbers on our coal-fired electrical stations, because it would cost $1.6 billion and "doesn't help climate change". (Aside: I thought we weren't supposed to be helping climate change.)

Yep, you read it here first: Ontario's air is crystal clear. No more smog days! Yay!

It was only a matter of time before somebody in the political sphere forgot that "the environment" and "Kyoto" are not synonyms. Actually, they're closer to antonyms. It's highly debatable whether the Kyoto Protocol would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by any appreciable amount, since (a) the biggest emitters (the U.S., China, India, and Russia) are either exempt or have no intention of signing on; and (b) Kyoto includes an "emission credit trading" system that in effect just spreads the greenhouse gas around.

Never mind meeting Kyoto. If we tota…

If you're feeling a little too optimistic today...

It's always the gotchas that getcha.

My wife is the single most self-reliant, sensible, capable creature I have ever met. Throw a crisis at her and she defuses it in mid-air and sets it gently on the ground, without taking her eyes off other incoming crises. Occasionally she'll whip an arm out and snag one coming up from behind--something I hadn't even considered, but which she had expected and planned for, timing its exact moment of arrival and disarming it on the fly. I don't know how she does it. Me, I just kind of bumble through life, sparing little thought for the future until it's the present (which is probably the biggest reason I like my life boring). Eva and boredom do not mix well. Remove too much stress too fast from her life (such as, for instance, on vacation) and like as not she'll actually get sick. That's another thing I find incredible about her...she can work thirty hours of overtime a week for a couple of months without her body going into…


It never ceases to amaze me how, in the aftermath of any tragedy involving guns, the immediate response of a great many Americans is to call for more guns. "If everybody had themselves some shootin' irons, ain't none of this be allowed to happen".
It likewise never ceases to amaze me how, in the aftermath of any Canadian tragedy involving guns, the immediate response of a great many Canadians is to call for more restrictions against guns. "If you ban the guns, see, and then reinforce the ban with another ban...well, hell, let's just triple-ban the damned things, eh?"
For those Canadians who are so viscerally anti-American as to semi-automatically put out of mind the fact that school shootings happen in the True North, Strong And Free Of Those Damned Yankees, here...constitutes... a... refresher... course.

The fact is, these school shootings happen all over the world, and the gun control or lack thereof in any given country has very little if anything to do…

Old Whitey's got something to say.


Thirty five years on into my life and I'm still working out how I feel about freedom of speech.

I used to be an ardent defender, someone would would willingly allow all manner of offensive chatter on the grounds that censorship bestows undeserved power. My honest belief was that people such as Ernst Zundel should be allowed to spew their filth, the better to brand themselves as fools.
As I got older, though, my faith in my fellow man became increasingly tenuous as I began to realize just how many people in any given audience were fools themselves and would believe and repeat anything they heard. Then I saw a movie called The utterly depraved journey through filth beyond anything I'd ever imagined...which disillusioned me further. As I said then, some things shouldn't be said. Hell, some things shouldn't be thought.

But I've regained some of my former conviction over the past week or two.

Having lived a sheltered life, I can't say I'm en…

Music Man

I'm a musical person. Always have been, always will be. Music was my first love; I was playing piano before I could read anything much beyond my own name, or even write that name properly. I wrote my first piece at five, a little ditty I called "A Trip Down Main Street" after, of all things, one of the common showcases on The Price Is Right.
As with pretty much everything else in my life, I approached the discipline of music with next-to-no discipline of my own. I probably could have been a prodigal pianist if being one hadn't entailed so much gosh-darned work. Practicing anything that wasn't mine own rapidly robbed the melody of any charm it had. Being forced to play music as it was written (the horror!) just peeved me off.
Enrolled in lessons as soon as my mom could afford it, I detested them right from the get-go. By then, the teacher had to try and undo about four years of bad habits. I had no concept of correct fingering: if the note came out, that was good e…

Please, can we go back? HOW DO WE GO BACK?

I found this on eBaum's World today and it really hit home. It's American, but it applies here too.

50 Years

See what 50 years will do:

Scenario: Jack pulls into school parking lot with rifle in gun rack.

1956 - Vice Principal comes over, takes a look at Jack's rifle, goes to his car and gets his to show Jack.
2006 - School goes into lockdown, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1956 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends. Nobody goes to jail, nobody arrested, nobody expelled.
2006 - Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charges them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario: Jason won't be still in class, disrupts other students.

1956 - Jason sent to office and given a good paddling by Principal. Sits still in class.
2006 - Jason give…

The Secret's Out

Seen Oprah lately? I haven' benign as that woman may be, she frightens me a little. Name one other person who can singlehandedly turn an obscure tome into a national bestseller overnight. At least she seems to be concentrating (for the most part) on using her power to empower others...which is, of course, what having power is supposed to be all about. Still, I do wish more people would act on their own, without waiting for her approval. There almost seems to be this notion that "Oprah says it's okay, so it's okay." I think that's what disturbs me.

One of her latest pet extravaganzas is something called The Secret. Like Oprah herself, The Secret is everywhere. It's a book. It's a DVD. It's online. And the backlash against it is a phenomenon in itself.

I'll be honest...I haven't seen the movie and have no intention of doing so. I haven't actually read the book, either (though I did skim it, looking for the noted contribution of my f…

Hockey Blog 2007 (III)

Toronto Maple Leafs report card 2006-2007

(cf. here)

(caveat: as I write this I still have no idea whether or not they are in the playoffs. This report card is based on their regular season only.)

I started to do a player-by-player comprehensive report, and that fizzled out after I got through a few forwards. The fact is, this team is so damned inconsistent that it's nearly impossible to give them any kind of meaningful grade. One night they go out and shut down one of the top teams in the league. The next night they fall to one of the cellar-dwellers.

Long before this season started, it was evidently decided by Leafs braintrust to take the path less trodden and build their team differently. Unlike almost every other NHL team, almost all of our offense comes from the defense. Since there are very few D-men who are exceptional at both ends of the ice, this philosophy requires a top-flight, cool-under-pressure, game-stealing goalie in the Roberto Luongo or Marty Brodeur mold.
About a…

Hockey Blog 2007 (I)

I'm writing this an hour before puck drop in the final game of the regular season for my Toronto Maple Leafs. Possibly the final game of the year for them. Or for the Habs, their opponent tonight. Or--depending on what the Islanders do tomorrow against the Devils--for both of them. I can't recall the last time a regular season game was this important. Not for one team (that seems to happen every year for my Leafs: it always comes down to one game) but for two. Simply put, both teams have to win this. It should be an incredible match. Meaning of course, there's a better than even chance somebody's going to get blown off the ice. No, I won't say who. Predictions are a mug's game. They were at the beginning of the season and they certainly are now.
Speaking of the beginning of the season, I made a number of predictionsback in October. Let's see how I did.

1) SORRY, OTTAWA, THIS AIN'T YOUR YEAR EITHER. I'll stand by this and dare them to shock me. They mi…


Pardon the paucity of blog entries of late. To tell the truth (and shame myself), I'm just too damned tired to think about much of anything at all.
Yup, it's EASTER WEEK again!
Longtime readers, as well as those EVERY SINGLE ONE of you who pile into grocery stores this time of year and buy everything in sight, then bitch because it's all gone...
Deep breaths, Ken. Start over.
Easter, you know? The time of crosses and chocolate bunnies is also, inexplicably, the busiest week of the grocery year. Thanksgiving is a pale imitation. Christmas comes close. But Easter--which never meant a thing to me beyond a perfunctory trip to church and some little chocolate eggs scattered around--means a whole hell of a lot to just about everybody else.
This year, it's the usual lack of holding power that vexes me, but it's compounded by a change in my schedule and added responsibilities.
Yup, yours truly is officially a keyholder now. That means I close the store on occasion, in my case o…

Going Moldy....

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