Sunday, November 30, 2008

At Least She Wasn't A Lesbian

In January 2007 an Edmonton foster mother took her three year old boy to the hospital with serious head injuries. As the situation was investigated she was eventually charged with second degree murder. The trial ended last week and the mother was found guilty of manslaughter.

Around 1997 Alberta explicity banned gay and lesbians from being foster parents after a well known and highly successful foster mother was outed as a lesbian. Children were abruptly removed from homes where they were doing well, and the gay foster parents were told their services were no longer required. Dr. Lyle Oberg, the social services minister at the time told the gay parents that they would have to prove scientifically that they would not harm children because of their orientation. Of course the outcome was predetermined and Oberg lined up the usual collection of pseudo-Scientific evangelical quacks to prove that gays were harmful. All pro gay arguments were ignored.

The fact that the government considers it safer to put a child in a home with a woman capable of this outcome rather than a lesbian parent who had a long term record of success and safety would suggest that their fake family values bigotry actually puts children at risk.

Fast forward to the fall of 2008. Edmonton Strathcona MLA Rachel Notley is gathering more and more evidence that the whole child care system is being seriously mismanaged. Status reports have not been filed for 3 years, and when they are finally filed they are done so on October 14, 2008, the day of the Federal Election. The government's response, not unexpected, is to announce that nothing is wrong, the Minister is doing a great job, and to start drafting legislation to clamp down on information being released.

Janis Tarchuk had an opportunity to turn this department upside down and fix it. But that would have taken courage. Instead the status quo is defended and a veil of secrecy is pulled over the whole mess.

This is not the Alberta I grew up in. Please recommend this post

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dutch People

If you don't speak Dutch, or find Dutch people chatting to be interesting, fast forward to about 1:50 to get the gist of the video.

My own personal best is 1 in a year and a half and I needed both hands and a book.

Don't forget to come back and express your outrage in Dutch. Please recommend this post

Thursday, November 27, 2008

BBC Remaking Triffids, Banning Swearing

Under public pressure the BBC is about to go on robotic purge of bad language while at the same time gearing up for a remake of George Wyndham's science fiction novel The Day of the Triffids.

The novel is listed in Peter Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. It was made into a movie in 1962 and was one of the best worst movies ever. It starred Howard Keel. Howard Keel. As a hat tip to irony, or perhaps the viewers wishful thinking, the Triffids main line of offense was blinding people.

It ably represented a genre where busty women in tight sweaters screamed and screamed while running and falling down.

I plead with you do not remake this movie. Not everything needs to be remade all the time. It stands on its own as a complete work. Ok, here's an idea. The remake is set in the English country side in the 1800's. It's a period piece involving young women and courting rituals. Jane Eyre on LSD starring Helena Bonham Carter. And large evil plants. It could work.

As far as the swearing goes, the networks never get it right. While dialog in a movie often has to be raw to properly portray the characters, gratuitous swearing in variety shows doesn't always work.

So you end up watching a movie with Al Pacino and all he ever says is BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEEEEP but then you get a talentless hack interviewer who tells Gwyneth Paltrow during a live interview, that he wants to fuck her. Classy. Please recommend this post

Feckless Flaherty Fakes Frugality

(Alternate title: Man Fellates Own Party During Crisis)

I rarely listen to political speeches anymore, but I caught Jim Flaherty's financial update speech today and I was quite amused. Also annoyed. It was pure propaganda.

I told my friend M. that Flaherty annoyed me and she said I Annoy you, why? I said no, Jim Flaherty. She said Oh. A few minutes later she said why do I annoy you?

1. Conservatives have been in power federally for a fraction of time but Flaherty talks like they're the architects of all Canada's strengths. No sense of history or humility at all. Flaherty invented sunshine and ponies and rainbows.

2. Taking away the right to strike for federal workers wont help anyone during a recession. Its just a cheap shot that can be pushed through at a difficult time.

3. No elimination of positions in the incredibly swelled up cabinet. This is a glaring omission.

4. Eliminating the tax funded subsidy for political parties is another cheap shot designed to give the Conservative Party an financial advantage in the next election. It doesn't really help any of us and weakens democratic fairness in an antiquated and unfair system.

5. Who would have thought that a marriage between the Reform Party and the Common Sense Revolution® would have produced Canada's first deficit in over a decade.

You betcha. Winks into camera. Please recommend this post

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Skeptic Calls It For Stampeders

The night before the 96th Grey Cup you can practically hear a pin drop in Calgary. Actually its always like this, I just wanted to be melodramatic. I swear this town closes at 9pm on a Saturday.

Most of the predictions I've read are calling for a pretty close game and I agree. The Calgary media is trying to frame the Stampeders as undergods. Sorry, underdogs. They are not. They beat Montreal in all their meetings this year and on paper they are just as good if not better.

While I'm not a Stampeder's fan I do think they will win this one. Probably by a few points and probably on the last play of the game. A rouge if necessary, but not necessarily a rouge. Henry Burris is a great Quarterback and the fact that he has not won a Grey Cup yet is the huge monkey in the room that's flinging poop at everyone. Also I think John Hufnagel is one of the best motivating coaches ever.

I also hope the Stampeders win because if they don't the local media will go into hyper-woe-is-us mode for a good six months, and I for one don't want to be crushed under the weight of all that self-absorbed hubris. You have to live here to understand it. There really is an insufferable weight of insecurity and self-importance when it comes to sports.

Since I'm really an Edmonton Eskimos fan I'll leave you with a picture from the 1978 Grey Cup, when the Eskimos beat the Montreal Alouettes. In this picture Coach Hugh Campbell discusses the exact location of the end zone with Quarterback Tom Wilkinson. Coach Campbell is the one wearing the Cat Diesel Power® ball cap. Wilkinson looks angry because in 1978 there was no place in Edmonton to get decent carpet for under $3.00 per yard.

Please recommend this post

More on the 1001 Books You Should Read

In a previous post I mentioned the Book 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

The website Arukiyomi has an Excel spreadsheet with a complete list of the 1001 books. It is a fairly impressive spreadsheet with some Macros to record which books you've read. This spreadsheet has been downloaded almost 19,000 times. (The spreadsheet is in Office 2007 Format.)

The copy of 1001 books I first read was the first Edition and since then the second edition has come out. The editor has dropped over 100 titles from the first edition and replaced them. The spreadsheet has the listings of titles that were dropped and added.

I was doing some math in my head to see how long it would take to read through this list. Factoring in how many books on the list I've read already I figured if I read 2-3 of these books a month I would still be at it well into my 70's.

And likely broke and single, with coke bottle glasses. Please recommend this post

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Priest Who Did The Right Thing (Finally)

From the Los Angeles Time, October 13, 2008:

A week ago, Father Geoffrey Farrow stood before his Roman Catholic parishioners in Fresno and delivered a sermon that placed him squarely at odds with his church over gay marriage.

With Proposition 8 on the November ballot, and his own bishop urging Central Valley priests to support its definition of traditional marriage, Farrow told congregants he felt obligated to break "a numbing silence" about church prejudice against homosexuals.

"How is marriage protected by intimidating gay and lesbian people into loveless and lonely lives?" he asked parishioners of the St. Paul Newman Center. "I am morally compelled to vote no on Proposition 8."

Then Farrow -- who had revealed that he was gay during a television interview immediately before Mass -- added a coda to his sermon.

"I know these words of truth will cost me dearly," he said. "But to withhold them . . . I would become an accomplice to a moral evil that strips gay and lesbian people not only of their civil rights but of their human dignity as well."

Of course what happened next was predictable. Father Farrow was promptly fired by the Diocese and stripped of all wages, pension, and health care.

The hideous bigotry of California's proposition 8 continues to hurt all kinds of people. I'm glad that Father Farrow took this position because it gives some hope that there are still people of character and courage in the Catholic church willing to risk everything on an issue that will define our morality for years do come.

Father Farrow's dismissal probably also had something to do blogging against the Church's latest attempt to prevent pedophiles from getting into the Priesthood. While everyone agrees there should be stringent screening of candidates, for all kinds of reasons, it seems the latest guidelines deliberately and with malice conflate homosexuality and pedophilia. How would someone in a position of authority sleep at night knowing they pushed this lie?

Anyway, I'm glad this Priest took this stand and I hope many more do. Please recommend this post

Goldring: Soldiers Not Heroes

If you are familiar with Edmonton you will know how 97st North works its way out of downtown and northward out of the city eventually arriving at CFB Edmonton. (Map) From here many men and women come and go to Afghanistan and other places our Military is active.

CFB Edmonton has had its share of sadness with a few of their soldiers killed in Afghanistan. A group has been active in Edmonton for some time discussing the possibility of renaming 97th Street to Heroes Boulevard. Even though I am against the war in Afghanistan I think its a great idea to rename 97th Street in honor of all the Soldiers who have been based at CFB Edmonton.  

Peter Goldring, Conservative Member of Parliament for Edmonton East believes that Hero is not the right word because...

"I'm concerned that the word hero would be an overgeneralization," he told Sun Media.

All soldiers show valour, he said, while the word hero should be reserved for those who are decorated or lose their life in battle.
And the word asshole should also not be overused.  I'm guessing the Edmonton Sun was having a slow day and just looked around for some easy foot in mouth baiting. 

The military has a number of medals and citations to award to soldiers for their courage. The awarding of these medals follows certain traditions and protocols. But here we're just talking about renaming a street to show a little thanks and rememberance. Are the semantics really necessary?

If you're looking to find more information about Goldring's view on the military, his website has a prominent link titled Our Security.  Dead Link.  404.   Seems fitting.
Please recommend this post

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Obligatory CFL Predictions

Apparently, even in Edmonton, many people are still confused about why the Eskimos are playing a playoff game in Montreal tomorrow.

The Eskimos finished fourth in the West and normally would be out of the playoffs. But no, the league has a cross-over rule.  Since Edmonton finished with more points than the third place team in the Eastern division they get their playoff spot.  Still with me?  The cross-over can work the other way too. An eastern team could have taken the third place spot in the Western division. Fortunately this will never happen because they're all crappy teams in the east.

If Edmonton beats Montreal tomorrow they'll be the Eastern Division Champions and will play in the Grey Cup.  I know how many of you Edmontonions have been hoping and praying that your team could win that coveted Eastern Division title.  If Edmonton wins tomorrow it will also virtually kill the TV viewing audience since no one east of Vegreville will watch it.  Beer and Condom sales will PLUMMET.

On paper, Montreal has a far better team, but anything can happen. I predict nothing except that it will be come down to whichever Quarterback is better.  

The Western Division final is between Calgary and the BC Lions in Calgary.  If you're a Calgary fan you've probably been listening to the media talk for 2 straight weeks about how Henry Burris has not won a playoff game in 3 years.   I'm leaning toward BC, but the only prediction I'll make is there will be an unsportsmanlike penalty called for ball grabbing.   For whatever reason these two teams have been in a ball grabbing war for as long as I can remember.  

Please recommend this post

Friday, November 14, 2008

Read Books or Die

This is my kind of book. It is a beautiful time waster with short descriptions of the 1001 books and lots of excellent images. The title exacerbated my ongoing mid-life crisis. Then it doubled back and exacerbated my exacerbation. I'm going to die? When? I have to read how many books? I almost died just thinking about the idea of reading 1001 books. At 949 pages you could stroke out just carrying it around.

The list starts off with Aesop's Fables, a long time favourite. According to popular legend Aesop was stuffed in a sack and thrown off a cliff for the crime of mocking a local Oracle. He was probably reading that famous book called 1001 Oracles you must mock before you die.

The last book in the list is Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. I guess when you're old and blind and half crazy you'll need a book like that to finish up on a positive note.

I can't let go of the idea that this is doable. How long do you think it would take to plow through these 1001 books? Keep in mind that War and Peace and Ulysses are on the list. Those two could bog you down for years in mercilessly dry sweeping prose. Is there anyone out there who has made it through the list?

Unfortunately there is no web site for the book and thus no download list of all the books. There is a blog I saw that had a spreadsheet but I have not checked it out yet.

Oh no, I know what you're thinking. No I won't make my own list you can't make me. That would be by far the geekiest idea ever.

Someday I'll be lying on a hospital gurney, trying to hang on...

Nurse: What are you doing?
Doctor: I'm trying to revive this man!
Nurse: But he has a do not resuscitate order...
Doctor: Damn you he's only half way through Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard
Nurse: But that puts him only about half way through the list.
Doctor: Yes. But we don't really know. Damn them to hell for not numbering the books.
Patient: .... library.
Doctor: You just relax now. We'll have you reading in no time. Nurse, hand me that hack-saw.

1001 dumb ideas to indulge in before you die, which by the way, could be soon. Please recommend this post

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Some Obvious Failures

Half of us are control freaks and the other half can't follow simple instructions.

And I can see Russian from my dorm.

Who designs these things? Please recommend this post

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dulce et Decorum Est - Part 2

Read the whole poem:

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen 1917

Please recommend this post

Dulce et Decorum Est - Part 1

In Memoriam:

Private Norman Jennings McBean
54th/7th Battalion CEF

Date of Birth: February 1, 1896
Fernie, British Columbia, Canada

Died April 8, 1917, France
Buried Arras Road Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France

(You have no idea how difficult it was to write these few words.) Please recommend this post