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Showing posts from June, 2008

My name is Ken, and I AM CANADIAN

I think every Canadian should have a map of Canada in his or her house. It should be displayed in a place where one can sit and contemplate the wonderful vastness of this land.As Canadians, we are continuously groping for an identity and a sense of love for our nation. We grapple with the concept, find it somewhat distasteful and leave it for another day.We find American flag waving, hand over heart while belting out 'Oh, say, can you see...' too much and avoid doing the same. We admire their national spirit, but Canadians are, in contrast, understated.To understand the identity that exists in our hearts think of our sweepingly majestic home—its quiet, serene beauty. A beauty recognizable to us all. We are proud of this nation and of who we are. We just don't say it to everyone we meet (and perhaps we should!).It's like the map of Canada. It just sits there on the wall displaying the lines of our coasts, the bulk of our waterways and the breadth of our northern territo…

Left, right, left, right, marching on to doom

I read something today written by Dan Simmons, a favourite author of mine. It really struck a chord. I'm going to quote from it at length:

The reason I've lost interest in the American "left" since I was active in it in the 1960's and '70's is that it's moved almost 180 degrees to a point it's so conservative, it's essentially reactionary. The old joke definition of a conservative was --"Someone old enough and wise enough to know that all change is for the worse." Well, left-wing intellectuals have filled that slot, whether they were advising us all in the late 1980's that the Soviet Union would ALWAYS be with us, so get used to it and learn to live with Communism, or today panicking at climate change (or the idea that some species, somewhere, may go extinct,) or in trying to legislate racial quotas and opportunity from the bench. The left has become rigid and change-fearful. (except with the idea of further empowering government …

Wherein poundage is shed most violently...

I'm losing weight.
Not through any particular exercise regimen of my own, although I've been labouring harder than usual at work, lately: just from cutting my portion sizes down and eating more protein and vegetables and less actual food. For a while there--like, a week or two--I did a mile a day on our treadmill, but lately, in the heat, I can't be bothered. Which is another reason among many that I admire the hell out of my wife, who's working out four, sometimes five days a week.
She's losing weight, too: lots of it. I'm down a pant size, but she's down a lot more and still going strong. Of course, she's got sweat to help her along. I don't sweat's gotta be Christly hot for me to get drippy. But she can be hot to the point of saturation in an air-conditioned room. Throw in a workout, and I kid you not she looks like she just came out of the shower. It's almost scary. Check that: it is scary. Eva needs a fan on her at all times to…

Little Language Pet Peeves

On a lighter note...

These things bother me a lot more than they probably should.

WHY does practically the whole world pronounce sherbet as if Ernie's agreeing with his room-mate? Only one 'r' in that word, people!

I JUST saw a commercial for some store or other (forgive me, I don't pay much attention to people who are trying to get me to spend money) and they were having a sale. A BOGO sale: "Buy one, get one half off". That's not how BOGO works. BOGO means 'buy one, get one'. As in free.

SPEAKING of free, I was offered a free gift the other day. Aren't all gifts free? Isn't that the definition?

ANOTHER redundancy: "at the present time". As opposed to what? The present space?

A QUICK GRAMMAR LESSON: They're grinding their teeth over there at all the people who don't know the difference between they're, their and there.

LET'S JUST get rid of apostrophes entirely, shall we? It would make life ever so much easier. "…

Does the End Justify the Means?

My dad sent me an interesting article the other day on global warming. Here's a link to it.

This is an article by John Coleman, the meterologist who founded the Weather Channel in the U.S. In short, he believes global warming is a scam. I was somewhat taken aback by the lack of references, but this represented a short talk. Here's the expanded version (pdf file), for those who have the time for a forty-page document.

Those who've been with me a while can attest I've wavered violently back and forth on this. I occasionally like to revisit, because global warming, or the much more accurate "climate change", is still a hot-button issue with serious consequences for public policy.

Having read very widely pro and con, I get the sense that we just don't know what the hell's going on with climate. Just not knowing doesn't sit well with a certain class of scientist; it can lead to all sorts of distortions and misinterpretations of the data, turning specious …

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics

"Death is caused by swallowing small amounts of saliva over a long period of time."
--George Carlin.

He swallowed his last spit on Sunday. And although he sure wouldn't want us to piss and moan--the man always said he was just "passing through"-- I gotta tell ya, the world has lost a giant of a man, and I, for one, am more than a little bummed out.

I'm too young to remember Carlin's first transformation from beloved guest of The Tonight Show to defendant before the Supreme Court of the United States, brought up on obscenity charges. (They found his material "indecent but not obscene", and ruled the FCC had the authority to prohibit its broadcast when children might be listening). This child was listening, though.
The first time I heard a Carlin album, I was with my dad. That would have been Playin' With Your Head (1986). I was fourteen years old...the youngest fourteen-year-old you can imagine. Of course, I was captivated by the language: thi…

Department of Redundancy Department

Gas cost 68 cents a litre two years ago: it's now almost twice that. A big bag of rice that retailed for $5.99 last week just jumped to $17.99. Airlines still advertise dirt-cheap fares; it's only in the fine print that we discover the one-way trip to London, England, billed at $299, will wind up costing you close to a thousand bucks once all the taxes, fees, levies, surcharges and miscellaneous hosedowns are exacted.
In this environment, Stephane Dion has the unmitigated gall to call for a carbon tax?

It's not that I'm against the idea of polluters paying for their sins. I actually rather like that idea, if it'd work. There can't be any kind of a "cap and trade" system, mind you: that would simply spread the pollution around.

But as for a carbon tax?

Okay, it might work. It seems to have worked in Sweden. But if we're going to enact this thing, I'd really like to stop hearing


Yeah, righ…

Free Speech, Again

(or, "You hurt my feelings! Go to jail!")

My attitudes on freedom of expression have spun like a top over the past few years. For most of my adult life, I felt that short of inciting a riot, freedom of speech ought to be as close to absolute as possible--the better to expose the idiots. A sign like "STICK NAILS IN THE EYES OF ALL FAGGOTS (FOR GOD!) says a lot more about the signholder's so-called religion--none of it complimentary--than it does about faggots (or God). The thing to do with a Holocaust denier, I thought, was to let him jabber away: every syllable would brand him a fool.
Then I got to noticing just how gullible the human race has become in the Age of the Internet. Oh, there's always been gullibility about: "I saw it on TV! It must be true!" But it's beyond endemic now.
Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian philosopher and communications theorist, wrote in 1961 about what he called "the global village". This phrase is generally seen a…

Thoughts on Religions

"Religions only look different if you get 'em from a retailer. If you go to a wholesaler, you'll find they get it from the same distributor."
--Stephen Gaskin

Could all religions be, at root, the same?

I was raised kind of half-assed Catholic: baptized (twice, actually), Sunday school for a short while, First Communion and so on, but almost no regular church attendance. Even as a kid, church seemed to me to be more about social standing than Anyone or Anything that might be worshipped therein.
Besides, who can deny that churches are uncomfortable places, especially for children? The pews are rock-hard, the sermons drone on and on, and every so often they're punctuated--depending on the church you're in, of course--by threats of hellfire and damnation, as if to say you think this is bad? Just you wait.

I went through a period of very strong atheism back in my teens, reciting the athiest creeds every bit as unthinkingly as I had once recited Ave Marias and Paternos…
For every screen full of doom and gloom, there's its cheery opposite:

Here's an article worth reading, concerning Ray Kurzweil's predictions for a future beyond most people's wildest dreams. Solar power, says Kurzweil, will become economical in five years and within two decades all of our power will be "clean". By midcentury we should be knocking on the door of immortality, with the help of nanotechnology. And that's just for starters.

This is not pie-skying: this man is immensely respected in his field, and has correctly predicted all sorts of things in the past.
I sure hope he gets this one right. In five years, solar power better be economical, because we could be running on fumes. And I'd just like to see a world, with people in it, come 2050. Immortality would be a nice bonus.

No More Hockey, No More Theme. Bwah.

The song you're hearing is the Hockey Night in Canada theme, composed by Dolores Claman and used every Saturday night for the last forty years. Its license has expired; negotiations are ongoing to renew, but as of now it doesn't look good.

The theme is often called "Canada's second national anthem". Anecdotes abound of Canadians humming the tune in public places from Tokyo to Johannesburg, whereupon a chorus of previously unrecognized Canadians join in.

It sounds ridiculous, but I'm actually peeved that we may have heard the last of this theme. Pretty much every Saturday for as long as I can remember, it's been my cue to get my ass into the living room. It never fails to kick my adrenaline up a notch, which is why it's the first song in my iPod workout playlist. It's also one of the most downloaded ringtones in Canada. It's even been used as a wedding processional.

I gotta give Ms. Claman a lot of credit for catchy jingles.

Here's another …

The Symptoms are Presenting...

"There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with guaranteeing such a profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is supported by neither statute or common law. Neither corporations or individuals have the right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."

--Robert A. Heinlein, "Life-Line" (first published 1939)

I can't help but think of Heinlein's passage when it comes to today's union blockade of GM's Canadian headquarters. This is being done in protest of GM's decision to close an Oshawa plant, which produces GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado pick-up trucks.

At issue is a contract signed just last month which commits GM to keeping the plant open until September of 200…

Going Moldy....

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