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Showing posts from May, 2011

That's the Sound of the Men...

In the latest chapter of the Americanization of Canada, Ontario wannabe-Premier Tim Hudak has proposed chain gangs for provincial prisoners.
So many Conservative policies sound great if you don't think too hard. Who'd argue that convicted prisoners shouldn't give something back to their communities? And doesn't manual, menial labour seem like a great thing to give back?
There are a few problems to overcome, though. Two thirds of provincial prisoners are awaiting trial and sentencing. (I have to admit that figure shocked the hell out of me. Harper says we need more jails. Maybe we just need more courtrooms.) Anyway, that leaves a third eligible for a work gang. But you can't just create one and send it out into a neighbourhood park. In effect, chain gangs represent a whole new jail, one without walls but requiring guards. Granted, the cons are chained together and one guard per work unit is probably sufficient, but you can bet Joe and Jane Taxpayer won't feel safe…

Approaching a Corner

Things are going to slide, slide in all directionsWon't be nothing, nothing you can measure any more The blizzard, the blizzard of the world has crossed the threshold and it's overturned the order of the soul When they said, 'Repent', I wondered what they meant --Leonard Cohen, "The Future"
More ominous rumblings of late. When the United Nations weighs in on the possibility (probability?) of the American dollar's collapse...well, I can't help but wonder: is the shit about to be shat, and has the fan been unpacked, plugged in, and turned on?
Our inability, as a species, to think around corners would be funny if it weren't so tragic. Even now, there are those poo-pooing the notion that there could be a mass abandonment of the US$ as the world's reserve currency, because "what would replace it? The yen? The euro? Don't make me laugh." The truth is that the entire First World, to varying degrees, is enmeshed in this economic predicament. …


I haven't travelled all that much in my almost forty years of existence. To date, I've been to just one other province in Canada (British Columbia, 2003); passed through twelve states en route to and from a thirteenth (Florida); and visited exactly one other foreign country (Venezuela, 1986...thanks, Dad!)This will change.
I can't even hope to aspire to my friend Jason's jet-setting status: last I looked, the man's been to well over a hundred nations on every continent save Antarctica. He does a lot of domestic (U.S.) travel on business, and one of his perks is that the air miles accrue to his personal account. Couple that with Jay's legendary ability to sniff out deals and he manages two, sometimes three excursions each and every year. I envy him.
It really wasn't a surprise when and where the travel bug bit us. I'm thinking Walt Disney World is practically infested with them. Especially in EPCOT: World Showcase offers just a wee taste of so many places …

A Dream Deferred, Indeed

Articles like this hit a nerve with me.
It's the May Long again, opening weekend to the summer. Unusually, it isn't a complete washout, although the forecast does call for the possibility of thunderstorms this afternoon and tomorrow. Yesterday was sunny and hot--our kitchen made it to 26 degrees, prompting some seasonal bitching from yours truly. But of course, that was after I got home from work.
I'm writing this blog before I go into work today. And although the store is closed tomorrow for the statutory holiday, in past years we've run a garden center. I've neglected to ask if we're doing so again, lest somebody ask me to work in it. Oh, the joys of working retail. I should consider myself lucky: at least I'm paid something resembling a living wage. And (as of now) I do get every other weekend off. This one, alas, ain't one of 'em. The cashiers--some of whom are classified part time, but work full time hours--are worse off. I inadvertently found out …


But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Mt 24:36, KJV) And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. (Acts 1:7, KJV)
Anyone planning on participating in the Great Rapture Prank tomorrow? It's circulating around Facebook right now. Grab some unwanted clothes and arrange them in outfits, all over town, viz.

It continues to amaze me, years after I shed Christianity, how selectively literal so many of its adherents are. I'm tempted to say that nearly all Christians pick and choose passages from their Bibles to focus on, or ignore, as they see fit. Moreover, many believers seem to pick and choose the exact same passages to fixate on, or ignore. You ask a Christian to tell you about the creation story in Genesis, and odds are pretty much certain she won't ask you which one you mean. But there are two, and they diverge on a number of key points...including …


So I read here that Canada Post might go on strike.
The running joke--virtually everyone at my work who is younger than I am made it today--is "would anyone notice?"
I asked these funny people how many bills they had to pay each month, and received mostly blank stares. To be fair, I am surprised more companies don't e-mail their bills. But even so, the elderly tend not to be well-connected, and there are still many people in rural areas may as well not be. Remember dial-up? It's like exploring a haunted forest with a single firefly for light.
The postal service is admittedly in its sunset years, but it's still valuable, even if many people choose not to value it. "All I ever get is junk mail" is a common refrain. Common, yet odd, when you think about it. What constitutes "junk mail"? Usually people mean advertising circulars and flyers. Either these folks are some strange breed of human that never buys anything or they're so absurdly rich …

It's a Dirty Job, But...

I have certain skills. I play with words instinctively; I like to think I'm pretty good at it, although I lack any credentials to attest to it. I love to craft music: I have been composing since I was four, though, again, I have no idea what to do with my work. These are esoteric talents, to be sure. I'm consoled by the notion that my words (and my music, I hope) will outlive me. But in the meantime neither prose nor melody serve any practical purpose.
Practical skills I lack. I'll freely admit I don't even have the necessary mindset required to pick them up, nor any inclination to attain that mindset. Mostly because the practical skills are...dirty.
It sounds prissy. I don't think of it that way--nobody likes to think of himself that way--but maybe it is. I just don't like getting dirty. I don't like the way dirt gets in the pores of my fingers and seems to swell them into giant throbbing sausages. Most practical jobs, given my non-aptitude, involve blood, s…


When I awoke yesterday morning, I felt...okay. Not great, but certainly fine to work.Then I got out of bed. The dizziness and nausea started before I'd made it downstairs. By the time we left, my plan had shifted from 'work my butt off all day' to 'go in, write orders, come home'. I wasn't exactly sure how to explain this to my boss. You see, the ad we're into now--the "FreshCo Frenzy" birthday ad--is quite possibly the most strenuous flyer I've ever seen, and there was about three tons of work to do to set up. I started to write one order. The world was spinning; I had to stop several times and wait for it to stabilize. Then I went upstairs and apparently fell out of a chair. I don't really remember being in the chair and I certainly don't recall falling out of it. I think I remember giving my wife's phone number; in any event, she came and collected me (with help from some co-workers, without whom I could never have got back downsta…

Update and Upchuck

I took a break from politics in the wake of the election and promptly got sick.
There are things people say by rote, given certain situations. They're often patently obvious, utterly asinine...or both. At funerals, you hear a dozen of 'em. "She's in a better place." Really? And you know this how? "He looks so natural!" Yeah, it's a game he plays, laying there all stiff and unmoving in a coffin. He's played that game since he was a wee child. "This is all part of God's Plan." And even if the bereaved believes in God, she probably doesn't give a spadeful of grave dirt about God's Plan.
And I've noticed whenever I'm sick, somebody always says a variant on "well, there's a bug going around." Of course there is: there are always a myriad of bugs 'going around'. I'm not exactly sure how this piece of information is supposed to make me feel any better. Does it maybe make the speaker feel better, th…


Sample tweets this evening:
"If you want to have an abortion or some gay sex, do it in the next couple of hours."
"Only in Canadian politics can you show contempt for your boss and get a promotion for doing so."
...and my contribution: "Well, Canada, the last election you'll ever have was mighty interesting".

I'm only half joking, you know. Given the contempt Harper has repeatedly shown for everything to do with the democratic process, if he can figure out a way to do away with elections entirely, he will.
Bittersweet evening. On the positive side, the Bloc is sitting at a measly two seats. In the immediate short term, this is fantastic news for Canada; how it plays out long term is anyone's guess. Quebec is now, as a province, almost entirely alienated from the federal government. That does not bode well: of such alienation are protest movements born and nurtured. It will be very interesting to see if Layton can hold the strong beachhead he has e…

Thoughts on the Death of bin Laden

"I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
~ Martin Luther King Jr. (thanks, Mark, for posting this)(EDIT: Damnit, I hate when I get suckered into posting fake quotations. Still, great sentiment.)

------------ Wrong again.
I was sure, absolutely POSITIVE, that Osama bin Laden died, oh, about eight years ago. Or nine. The thought that a 6'5" man on dialysis (who needs a cane to walk, no less) can hide for any substantial length of time from a world hegemon determined to kill him strikes me as ludicrous in the extreme. There are only a couple of reasons I can think of, therefore, to explain why Mr. Boogeyman was still drawing breath up until yesterday afternoon.
1) The United States didn…

Olav, you bastard...

So this was my first weekend off in a month. Yesterday was a lovely day: we shopped 'til we dropped and had lunch at Granny Bonn's Fish and Chips, a local institution I had somehow avoided over my (wow) 21-year tenure in this city. We'll be back. The chips were merely average, but the fish was some of the best I've ever had in my life.We've been getting JYSK flyers for a few weeks now, and they've looked mighty intriguing. Yesterday we investigated the store and found it...mighty intriguing. It's the hybrid offspring of a midget IKEA and a Bed, Bath and Beyond. Great prices. We got a raincheck on Luc the computer desk at the eye-popping retail of $99; picked up a supremely comfortable office chair; and snagged Olav, the pine buffet, resolving to put him together today.
I was not looking forward to the experience. Olav sounds like he belongs in the Swedish mafia.
The instructions suggested the process would take two people an hour to complete. I leafed throu…

VOTE, damnit

Okay, everyone, time to put up or shut up.This has been, without a doubt, the most interesting election campaign I've lived through. It's interesting because for the first time in...ever, I think...I wouldn't even begin to hazard a guess how it's going to turn out. Because of the vagaries of our first-past-the-post voting system, we could get anything from a huge Harper majority to an NDP minority. If either of those options frightens you--and odds are, one of them does, because they're polar opposites in terms of what they mean for Canada--get out and vote for the other.
I went for a bike ride around my city yesterday, noting with interest the relation between size of house and likelihood of lawn sporting a Conservative sign. It's common knowledge that money tends to turn you to the right, but it's sobering to actually see that principle in action. There were a few exceptions--one manse had not just a Liberal sign but also a sign saying "I don't tr…